Whether you are suffering from arthritis, have damaged your cartilage, tendons or muscles or are recovering from knee surgery, you can dramatically reduce the pain you feel with this simple, easy five minute routine I’ve put together for you to watch and follow along at home.
How do I know this works?
Because I’ve used these exercises successfully to heal my own knee pain as well as alleviating the suffering of countless clients and students over the past 27 years I’ve been teaching yoga.
I recommend you follow this routine in the order I’ve prescribed.
What you need:
A stiff blanket. Here’s one I like.
A yoga strap with a buckle. I am partial to yoga straps with a plastic buckle that hold firm against pressure – I like this one you can purchase at Amazon.
A yoga block, and if you don’t have a yoga block you can substitute a large hardbound book such as a dictionary. Here’s a basic yoga block that fits the bill.
A yoga mat. No need for recommendations here as there are so many great choices but after 27 years teaching I’m a yoga mat snob and am partial to Manduka yoga mats.
I never understood why anybody would pay over $100 for a yoga mat until about 10 years ago when I bought myself a Manduka Pro yoga mat and then only regretted the many years I had spent practicing without one. For serious yoga students check this out.
So here’s the five-minute routine to get rid of knee pain.
Step One. Blanket Exercise to Release Knee Pain.
Here’s how you do this exercise:
- Get a blanket. Roll it up half way until you have a soft cushion that’s maybe three to four inches high. If you don’t have a blanket handy, roll up a yoga mat a third of the way and proceed with the exercise.
- Sit on the ground with both legs out in front of you and your hands behind your back.
- Place the rolled up part of the blanket directly ABOVE the back of the knee that’s hurting – not BEHIND the knee. That’s really important that you get the placement of the blanket right.
- Bend your other knee.
- Make sure that the foot of the leg you are working is STRAIGHT UP to the ceiling. This detail is crucial. Your feet control the position of your hips. If your hips are torqued, you will not be able to fix your knee. Look carefully at my photograph and follow along closely.
- Now isometrically contract the knee that’s on the blanket. Hold the contraction for a count of three and then relax it. Keep repeating this – contracting for a count of three, then relaxing your muscles – for about 60 seconds.
- Rest the knee you just worked and switch to the other side.
- Now get up off the floor and walk around – notice the difference in how your knee feels!
Let’s talk about why this simple exercise is so effective:
- Misalignment in the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones can be a major cause of knee pain even if you haven’t injured yourself.
- Bringing your knee back into alignment is essential to get rid of the pain, no matter what the cause.
- Sometimes the muscles around your knees are so weak they can’t support the bones, tendons and ligaments. This exercise will help strengthen the major muscles supporting your knees.
- This exercise gets your foot, hip and knee in the correct position to begin your healing process.
Step Two. Isometric Exercise with Block to Release Knee Pain
Here’s how you do this exercise.
- Get down onto the floor on a rolled out yoga mat.
- Put a yoga block between your knees. This helps bring your knees into proper alignment. As I have discussed in previous articles about healing your knees without surgery, your feet control your hips, your hips control your knees. You have to place your feet, hips and knees into alignment to get rid of your knee pain.
- Put a yoga strap around your gastrocnemius. You have two calf muscles – your soleus, which is the long skinnier muscle, and the gastrocnemius, which is the rounder muscle at the top of your calf just behind your knee.
- Make sure your knee caps are straight up to the ceiling.
- Make sure your feet are straight up.
- Now, as hard as you can, isometrically push out against the belt to the right and to the left. This is horizontal action. Push out against the belt so hard that you feel the muscles on the outside of your legs activated all the way up to your hips. Push for 60 seconds and continue to breathe.
- Now remove the belt and the block and get up and walk around. Feel the difference!
In addition to creating length and space around the knee joint, this exercise also strengthens the muscles that support the knee.
There are many causes of knee pain, but if you have hurt your knee in any way you will need to strengthen the muscles supporting your knee joint in order to heal completely.
Intense Side Stretch Pose Variation, also known as Pyramid Pose /Parsvottanasana
Here’s how you do this exercise:
- Stand in front of a wall.
- Put your hands on the wall to make sure you are arms length away.
- Bring your heels all the way together and turn your toes out so that each foot is turned out 45 degrees. In yoga, your back foot lays the foundation for your pose. By turning your feet out to begin with, you rotate your hips in the sockets, square your hips to the wall and prepare your body for parsvottanasana.
- Now step forward and put your left foot on the wall.
- Make sure your left heel is down and your toes are pointing straight up so that your knee cap is straight up to the ceiling.
- Fold from your hips and dog tilt your pelvis – just like you do in down dog. That means tilt your tailbone up to the ceiling and lift the pit of your abdomen.
- Keep squaring your hips to the wall by pushing your right hip forward and pulling your left hip slightly back.
- Spread your fingers and slide your arms up the wall in a half down dog position. Press your chest toward the wall and wrap your shoulders by rotating the outside edge in and the inside edge out. Although this part of the pose is secondary, you can free up your spine while you are heeling your knee.
- Now focus on your left foot in order to heal your left knee. Drive the heel of your left foot into the ground as you lift your left knee cap towards your left hip.
- Feel your left calf muscles stretching. Feel your left hamstrings lengthen.The more you drive your heel into the ground and lift your knee cap, the more you will feel the stretch in the back of your left leg.
- Hold this position for 60 seconds isometrically contracting your left quadriceps muscles.
- Lift the inner ankle of your left foot and lift the inside of your left knee while keeping your knee cap pointing up to the ceiling.
- Keep both legs straight (i.e., don’t bend your knees).
- After a minute, bring your hands to your hips. Step your back foot forward.
- Repeat on the other side.
To read more about what you can do to heal knee pain naturally, you may want to revisit this blog series I published in January 2016, “The Ultimate Guide to Healing Your Knee Pain Without Drugs or Surgery.” You can start reading the blog series at this link.
If you need help getting rid of your knee pain naturally, please email me at email@example.com or call 678-612-8816 to set up an appointment either in person or working via Zoom.
You can also join my yoga classes on Zoom from anywhere in the world. We meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings 7:30 to 9 p.m. EST, Thursdays 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Saturday mornings 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon.
Private yoga lessons by appointment.
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No matter your age or degree of injury, natural healing can make a big difference in the quality of your life, the ease of your mobility and the way you feel.