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4 Exercise Mistakes That Cause Knee Pain (and How Yoga Can Help)

Pranjal

Posted on Mar 25, 2021 #recent

When you’re young – like little kid young, not like 20-somethings young – you probably never considered how running barefoot on the pavement through the neighborhood affected your knees.

You were invincible. There was no pretzel pose you couldn’t do or sit in. Literally nothing bothered you, much less your knees.

Skip forward to your 20’s. Yeah, when you start to exercise to maintain your health, weight, fitness. Not because it’s fun.

How did we treat our knees in our 20’s? How do you treat your knees? Are you protecting them by doing exercises properly or are you still “running barefoot on the pavement?”

Do you think about your knees at all if they don’t hurt? No. Probably not.

I’m here to tell you how exercise is hurting or has hurt your knees and how yoga can fix it. If you need more help in this area, check out my Yoga for Knee Pain Class with your 2-week free trial of myYogaTeacher.

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1. Misalignment

One of the most common mistakes people make when working out is doing exercises the wrong way. The alignment of your joints is extremely important when working out. When they’re misaligned, it can cause injury.

Squats and lunges are the biggest culprits of misalignment for people when exercising. Your knees should never go past your toes when doing squats or lunges. Even if you’re doing yoga. Knees should always track over top of your shoe but not past your toes.

If you have knee pain from doing lunges and squats incorrectly, the pain will be focused around your kneecap and in front of the knee. Runners and jumpers also tend to have this kind of pain.

Some yoga asanas to help relieve runner’s knee pain are:

  1. Downward facing dog with calf stretches
  2. Low lunge and its different variations
  3. Hamstring stretches like seated forward bend
  4. Quad stretches

Done properly, these yoga stretches will improve your knee flexibility and decrease or get rid of your knee pain. Yoga is magical like that.

Each stretch should be held for at least a minute (more if tolerated) and should be repeated two to three times on each side.

Which leads me to talk about another common exercise mistake.

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2. Skipping single-leg exercises

Are you only doing exercises with both legs? Squats, leg presses, jumps. Plyometrics are often performed using both legs at the same time.

Muscle imbalances are normal. We use one leg more than the other. We carry a purse, bag, or backpack on one shoulder more than the other. We lean to one side when we sit. But when you work out, you should be incorporating unilateral exercises into your routine.

If you haven’t been, you may experience knee pain or tightness, as well as tight hips, hamstrings, and glutes. Mostly because you’ve been overusing the stronger side of your body when only doing exercises with both legs.

The best remedy for this type of pain? Yoga, of course! Here are some moves that will specifically help with this type of knee pain:

  1. Pigeon pose, either sitting or reclined
  2. Half splits
  3. Thread the needle.
  4. Downward facing dog
  5. Butterfly pose

Take a break from plyometrics, squats, leg presses, and jumps for a while. Any exercises where you’ve been using both legs simultaneously. And replace those movements with yoga moves instead! You’ll feel the difference!

Another common mistake?

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3. Lifting too much weight

I’m not knocking weight lifting. Providing load to your joints does help keep them strong. But if the muscles around those joints aren’t strong enough to handle the weight you’re lifting, the overload can lead to joint pain.

And your knees notoriously take the brunt of the overload like the superheroes they are.

The safest type of weight lifting is your own body weight. If you want to safely lift weights that are outside your own body weight, the best way is to start very light and work your way up. Progressive resistance is what the trainers call it.

If you’re experiencing knee pain due to weight overload, try these yoga moves:

  1. Crescent lunge
  2. Low lunge
  3. Half pigeon or reclined pigeon
  4. Dancer’s pose
  5. Standing splits

The idea here is to use your own body weight to strengthen the muscles around the joints while also stretching them.

A regular yoga practice is excellent for using your own body weight to strengthen and tone. myYogaTeacher offers 35+ classes each day! Try a 2-week free trial and feel the difference yoga makes in your body and life.

4. The wrong shoes

Bear with me here. Choosing the wrong shoes does count as an exercise mistake!

Improper footwear may not cause direct pain or injury, but it is a cause of misalignment and poor form when exercising. And we already know that poor form and misalignment cause knee pain and injury.

A good tip is to choose a shoe that supports your foot shape. If you have high arches or flat feet, this will be even more important. The stiffer the shoe, the better.

If you work out in a private setting, I recommend doing strength training barefoot. Yes, for real!

Studies have shown that many exercise routines are easier on your joints and knees if done barefoot! I’m not suggesting you start showing up at the gym barefoot or revert back to your childhood days when you ran everywhere barefoot as long as it wasn’t snowing. But barefoot exercise is definitely something you may want to look into!

One of the great things about yoga is that it’s always done barefoot!

Yoga doesn’t just help heal knee pain. It helps prevent it. By doing yoga barefoot, you are strengthening all the tiny muscles in your feet and ankles that are responsible for keeping you stable. In turn, your knees don’t bear all the weight - pun intended!

So let’s recap. A regular yoga practice isn’t just amazing for reducing or eliminating knee pain, it’s a great way to prevent it. If you’ve injured your knees due to the common exercise mistakes I talked about above, please be sure to see your doctor about it.

Then come see me! My Yoga for Knee Pain Class is designed for people who have all kinds of knee pain for various different reasons. I’m happy to talk with you about your specific pain, give you specific yoga poses or modifications to help reduce your pain. Try my class for free when you sign up for your 2-week free trial of myYogaTeacher!

See you on the mat!

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