Guidance for a Student with Hyperextended Knees
I have a client that appears to hyperextend her knee. I am working to support her being more aware and building up the strength in her quads and glutes. Is there anything else you would add?
She is only in her 30’s and the doctor has told her she has arthritis. The doctor didn’t do any testing or make suggestion about her posture or referral to see a physical therapist. I encouraged her to go back and get a referral to a specialist to support her in getting a proper diagnosis and referral to appropriate specialist who can help her.
Answer from Sherry
From my perspective, I find I hyperextend my knees when I am leaning forward in a Tadasana position. I feel my knee jamming. So for me it is postural positioning more so than an anatomical issue. I would look at her posture from the side view to see if you notice an alignment issue. It can be that her knee joint is hyper-mobile and it can go back into that hyperextended position very easily. So for her, she would have to consciously find the knee position that is less straight legged but with a micro bend to keep her knee safe. My two cents.
Back to Justine…
I agree with Sherry on the microbend of the knees, while telling her to also lift her kneecaps by engaging the quads. Triangle is also VERY easy to hyperextend the front knee, really keep a bend in it and lift the kneecap (when I started Yoga my knees hyperextended badly, and I didn’t have the strength to lift my kneecaps, those days are over!) It would behoove her to really build the musculature around the joint synergistically – like chair or half chair while squeezing a block between her knees – better yet, chair against the wall – she doesn’t have to bring the femur parallel to the floor, she can work up to that – and be very mindful of her alignment so the knees stay stacked over the ankles. Isometric holds like that will also increase synovial fluid into the joint.
I’m glad you urged her to get a referral to a specialist!
I attached a document with knee poses in it, with a video to show the first pose in the document. The first one is great for working with tracking (have her be mindful of her alignment), increasing circulation to the musculature of the leg and getting synovial fluid into the knee and hip. The second one is an example of chair (if her knee tends to give out, have her near a wall just in case). The last one is AWESOME! This one helped me to heal my own knees – it will traction the knee joint to create more space, as well as synergistically strengthening the musculature around her knees. The osteoarthritis is most likely toward the front of the knee as that would get more compressed with the hyperextension.
Legs up the wall is great (for so many things!!) – it slows the circulation to the legs down, and when she comes out the increased circulation brings white blood cells too, which will help with removing toxins and inflammation. It is similar to icing – however, with osteoarthritis I think icing is too much (unless it feels good to her – I hate it!) If she does ice, follow with heat. Applying oil to the knees, abhyanga style, would also be very beneficial.
You may also want to suggest she look into turmeric, SAMe or Boswellia as supplements to help with joint pain. Lemongrass essential oil also works really well applied topically.
Those are my thoughts, hope it helps!