Why is the top foot in dorsiflexion in Pigeon Pose?

Why is the top foot in dorsiflexion in Pigeon Pose?

I have an alignment question. When you teach the seated pigeon pose, and you say to keep the foot that is up, to keep it flexed to protect the knee joint – I am not sure I understand how that works exactly.

I can see how flexing the foot engages the tibialis anterior and the calf muscles which could be good to work, but I don’t really understand how not flexing the foot could be a problem for the knee joint. Can you explain? Most alignment cues make sense to me, and I don’t like being stumped! ; )

Answer from Justine

I hope the video helps. The main thing I have found is flexing the ankle helps stabilize the knee in a way that protects it from lateral movement or ‘shiftiness’….I have always felt that in my own knees. Today, just for kicks I asked my class to try both ways to see if they notice the difference. I got 23 emphatic yeses that they feel the support, and one who didn’t notice the difference.

It is not one muscle in particular, but the synergystic engagement of many that help to stabilize the knee joint, along with activation of the deep front line of fascia. I also think of the ankle in dorsiflexion creating a closed kinetic chain that stabilizes both the ankle and knee joints. Dorsi-flexing the ankle also prevents people from sickling the ankle and over-stretching the ligaments over time.

Let me know your thoughts….

Reply back from Teacher

Hi Justine,

It is so nice to hear from you, and yes the video is super interesting as well as your explanation. It really does make sense to me now. It is such a broader perspective of the interconnectedness of our structures and I love being opened up to that. Thank you so much! I also really think what you said about the ankle being prevented from sickling is an important part of it for me personally, because I do sickle if I am not careful.