However, healthy joints are very important as we age and deserve much more care than they usually receive.
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To help strengthen the knees, Jessica Green, yoga teacher at East of Eden, has detailed five yoga-inspired exercises that can be done while lying down, standing against a wall, and behind or sitting in a chair.
Start by sitting on the edge of your chair with your spine high or lying on your back. Stand your feet hip-width apart or wide enough to feel stable.
“Press your left leg down, then inhale as you raise the knee, exhale as you straighten the leg until it is straight, inhale as you bend the knee, and exhale as you lower the knee. Repeat up to four times with each leg, she explains. This exercise warms up the knee without putting too much strain on the joint. Pumping the leg draws circulation to the muscles and warms the joint. You may feel a little tingling.”
Pedal with your legs
Lie down on the floor, on a mattress.
“Inhaling raise your right leg forward, exhaling flex your right foot bringing the leg down, then bend the knee and raise it. Keep the knee lifted, inhale, and straighten the right leg again, keeping the leg above the floor. Then, lower the foot to the floor to start again. Do a pedaling action by repeating the above up to four times,” advises Jessica Green.
To challenge yourself and work your hips a bit, repeat the action keeping your leg lifted throughout the cycle. Repeat up to four times for each leg.
Raising the heels (standing knee bends)
“Now stand up, leaning on a wall, counter or chair to stabilize yourself,” she adds.
Start by standing up straight. Bring your legs as close together as possible, bringing your toes and knees together. “Imagine holding a sheet of paper between your knees,” says the expert. Step the right foot back so that it rests on tiptoes. Continue to squeeze your thighs and knees together. Lift your heel towards your buttocks. Repeat four times, making sure the rest of the leg remains stationary. Then start again, but descend up to four times, resisting the pull of gravity. Repeat with the left leg, stepping in place between the two.”
This action is important for strengthening the muscles around the knee, which are essential for supporting the joint and keeping your feet stable.
Lunge and back bend of the knees
Stand facing a wall or behind the back of a chair, using your hands to stabilize yourself. Step your left foot back and bend your right knee. Keep your weight on your right foot and lean forward on the chair or wall.
“Inhale as you bring your leg straight up and exhale as you bend your knee toward the floor. The more you bend your back knee towards the floor, the more difficulty you create. Repeat up to four times in rhythm with the breath and on both sides, continues the yoga teacher. It’s a great way to improve the knee joint and increase the length of the muscles at the back of the knee.”
Lunge and forward bend of the knees
Place your hands on the chair or your hands on your hips if you feel unsteady.
“Step back one foot and bend your front knee. This time, while inhaling, straighten the front leg and exhale, bending it. This is a very good pose for strengthening the muscles and the multiple ligaments around the knee. The slower you go, the more therapeutic it can be. A little leg tremor is a sign that your muscles are working,” she adds.
Just be sure to check with your doctor before you exercise and be careful not to do more than you think is doable and to avoid tension or any other uncomfortable feelings.
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Five yoga poses for healthier knees
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