Five yoga poses for knee strength

·3-min read
Jessica Green, yoga instructor at East of Eden

Unless we experience pain, most of us give little to no thought about our knees on a daily basis.

However, healthy joints are super important as we age and deserve much more TLC than they generally get. To help strengthen the knees, Jessica Green, yoga instructor at East of Eden, has detailed five yoga-inspired exercises that can be done lying down, standing at a wall, and behind or seated in a chair.

Knee lifts

Begin by sitting on the edge of your chair with a tall spine or lying on your back. Set your feet hip-width apart or wide enough to feel steady.

"Press your left leg down and then inhale to lift the knee, exhale, extend the leg to straight, inhale, bend the knee, and exhale to lower knee. Repeat up to four times on both legs," she explained. "This pose is to warm up the knee without putting too much strain on the joint. The pumping of the leg draws circulation to the muscles and warms up the joint. You might feel a little tingling."

Peddling the legs

Start again in a tall seat. Steady yourself by holding the edge of the chair and pressing one foot into the floor.

"As you inhale, extend your right leg to straight, as you exhale, slide the right foot towards bending and then lifting the knee. Keep the knee lifted, inhale, and extend the leg straight again, keeping the leg lifted. Then, lower your foot to the ground to start again. Making a peddling action by repeating the above up to four times," advised Jessica.

To challenge yourself and also work your hips a little too, repeat the action but keep your leg lifted for the whole cycle. Repeat up to four times and change legs.

"Now, come up to standing using a wall, worktop or chair to steady yourself," she added.

Heel lifts (standing knee bends)

Start by standing tall, lengthening to the crown of your head. Bring your legs as close as you can, with your toes together and knees as close as possible.

"Imagine you are holding a piece of paper between the knees," the expert instructed. "Step right foot back to rest on the tiptoes. Keep squeezing your thighs and knees together. Lift your heel towards your bum. Repeat four times watching to ensure the rest of the leg stays still. Then do this again but lower to a count of four resisting the pull of gravity. Repeat on the left, walking on the spot in between."

This action is essential for strengthening the muscles around the knee which are key to supporting the joint and staying steady on your feet.

Lunge and back knee bends

Stand at a wall or the back of a chair using your hands to steady yourself.

Step your left foot back and bend your right knee. Keep your weight on your right foot and lean forward into the chair/wall.

"Inhale as you bring your leg to straight and exhale as you bend the knee towards the floor. The lower you dip your back knee towards the floor the more challenge you create. Repeat up to four times moving on the breath and both sides," the yoga instructor continued. "This is a great way to improve articulation in the knee joint and increase the length in the muscles at the back of the knee."

Lunge and front knee bends

Place hands on the chair or hands on hips if you feel unsteady.

"Step one foot back and bend the front knee. This time as you inhale straighten the front leg and exhale as your bend. This is a very good pose for building strength in the muscles and multiple ligaments around the knee. The slower you go the more therapeutic this can be and a little trembling in the leg is a sign your muscles are working," she added.

Just be sure to consult your doctor before exercising and also take care not to do more than feels comfortable and avoid strain or any other unpleasant sensations.