Knees are possibly the most important joints for mobility. They’re also the most prone to atrophy and injury, especially if you live a sedentary lifestyle. In the hope of finding relief, most American reach for painkillers to help them go about their daily life, but knee pain treatment comes in more simple -and much safer- forms. Yoga, for example, is great for stimulating and stretching the muscles and ligaments that support your knees.
Exercising for Knee Pain
When knee pain is caused by under-use, inflammation or arthritis, exercise is an effective knee pain treatment.
“Exercise is one of the best things you can do to help your knees by helping maintain range of motion and strengthening the muscles that support them. Research shows that even relatively minor increases in the strength of the quadriceps – the muscles that run along the front of the thigh – can help reduce the risk of knee osteoarthritis and its progression, and reduce pain,” writes the Arthritis Foundation (1).
Before calling your physiotherapist, there are many yoga poses you can do at home every day to ease those knees!
18 Yoga Poses for the Ultimate Knee Pain Treatment
This knee pain treatment will stretch tight muscles and strengthen your joints and ligaments. You’ll feel more flexible, stronger, and pain-free.
1. Forward Fold
This yoga pose strengthens the muscles in the back of your knees and thighs.
1. Stand tall with your spine straight and strong.
2. Bend forward at the hip and bend your knees.
3. Bring your hands to the ground on either side of your feet and straighten your knees slowly. If you can, place your palms on the back of your calves and draw your head towards your legs. Keep your back straight and keep your ankles, knees, and hips in line.
4. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
5. Bend your knees slightly to release and repeat twice more.
2. Bound Angle Pose
This pose is very similar to the butterfly stretch and gives you a great knee stretch.
- Start by sitting on your mat with the soles of your feet touching in front of you.
- Try to bring your feet towards your pelvis.
- Hook your toes with your index fingers and bend forward, keeping your sit bones firmly on the ground.
- With every exhale, bend a bit further.
- Hold for a few breaths and release.
3. Bridge Pose
This classic pose is great for back pain, but it also works your inner thighs and the muscles around your knees.
- Start on your back with your feet on the ground beneath your knees. Keep your feet at hip’s width apart.
- Place your arms alongside your body, palms down.
- Lift your hips, squeezing your glutes and inner thighs as you do so. You back should be in a straight line. If you like, slide your shoulders under your body and lock your fingers.
- Hold for 10-15 breaths.
- Release and repeat.
4. Extended Side Angle Pose
This pose realigns the muscles in your knees and strengthens them in their proper alignment.
- Stand tall and step your right foot forward to keep both teeth about 4 feet apart.
- Make sure your left toes face the left. Your heels should be in a straight line. Bend your left knee.
- Raise your left arm up towards the ceiling and out to the front on your mat. As you do so, make sure your right thigh sticks out to the left side. Your left knee should hover above your left ankle.
- Bring your right arm inside your right calf and hold your ankle, keeping your arm straight.
- Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come into your initial position. Repeat on the next time.
5. Extended Triangle Pose
This pose stretches the muscles behind your knees. Just make sure not to lock your front knee to avoid injury.
- Stand tall and face the side of your mat.
- Keep your feet as far apart as possible.
- Turn your torso toward the left and point your left toes towards the left as well. Keep your right toes facing the side of your mat.
- Bend at the left hip, bring your left hand to your left ankle and your right arm towards the ceiling.
- Extend your left knee but do not lock it.
- Face the ceiling and hold for 10 breaths.
- Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
6. Garland Pose
This pose engages your core, back muscles, ankles, groin, and knees.
- Stand tall with your arms to the side and your feet at hip’s width apart.
- Bend your knees and lower your hips into a deep squat.
- Separate your thighs so they are slightly wider than your torso, keeping your feet in their original position.
- Make sure to keep your knees and ankles in a straight line and your back straight.
- Support your heels with a folded blanket if needed.
- Bring your arms in front of you, resting your arms inside your knees and your hands in a prayer position.
- Relax your shoulders and keep your back straight.
- Hold for five breaths. To release, bring your fingertips to the floor, and slowly return to the starting position.
7. Half Frog Pose
This backbend is a little advanced, so make sure to work your way up to it by practicing the other poses on this list first. It stretches the muscles at the front and sides of the knees.
- Lay on your belly with your legs straight and your arms on your side.
- Rest up on your forearms and bring your chest up off the ground.
- Come up onto your hands to lift your pelvis slightly off the ground.
- Walk your left hand backward and grab your left foot. Bring the left heel to your left glute.
- Hold for a few seconds. Do not hold if you feel any pinching or pain in your lower back.
- Release your left foot. Rest for a few breath, bringing your chest to the ground if you need to, and repeat on the other side.
8. Half Moon Pose
This pose is a great way to stretch and strengthen the muscles and ligaments on the sides of each knee.
- Stand tall with your feet at hip’s width apart.
- Extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder-height.
- Widen your stance so that your wrists are above your ankles.
- Rotate your right foot 90 degrees and turn your left toes slightly to the right. Align your front heel with the arch of your back foot.
- Bend at the right hip, twist your torso to the right and reach towards the ground with your right hand. If you can’t reach, use a yoga block to support your arm. As you do so, bring your left leg up to hip height.
- Hold for up to one minute, breathing deeply throughout.
- Return to the starting position, rest, and repeat on the other side.
9. Heron Pose
This intense hamstring stretch is no joke. Don’t be afraid to modify it to suit your personal flexibility. you can also lean back against a wall for more support.
- Begin seated on the ground with both legs extended straight out in front of you, back straight.
- Bend your right knee so that the right shin is resting on the floor and the heel of the right foot is beside the right hip.
- Bend your left knee in towards your chest, grab your left calf with both hands and extend upwards.
- Bring your lower back inwards and bring your torso closer to your leg.
- Remain in the pose for 3 to 5 full breaths. On an exhale, gently bend and lower the left leg and return to the starting position. When you feel ready, repeat on the other side.
10. Lord of the Dance Pose
This dancer’s pose will also stretch your glutes and shoulders!
- Stand tall with your feet at hip’s width apart.
- Look straight ahead and bend your left knee, bring your foot towards your glutes.
- Hold the inside of your left foot with the left hand, and unbend your knee, pushing your foot backward and up. Engage your right thigh and knee to strengthen the standing leg.
- As you do so, keep your chest open and your pubic bone rolled backward to lengthen your back.
- Extend your right arm up towards the ceiling and look upward.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- On an exhale, release the leg back down to the floor. Rest for a few breaths and switch sides.
11. Noose Pose
This squatting pose engages your knees to keep your balance. It also strengthens them.
- Stand tall with your feet together. Breathe deeply and find your center by slowly bringing your weight from side to side.
- Bend your knees to come to a squat, bringing your buttocks to your heels, without letting them touch the ground.
- Exhale, bring your knees slightly to the right and twist your torso to the left, keeping your torso in touch with your thighs.
- Bring your left arm behind your back to hold your right hand.
- Twist your torso further to the left, following with your head.
- Exhale and bring your shoulder blades together.
- Hold for 3-4 breaths, return to the center, and twist to the other side.
12. Pigeon Pose
This pose really stretches your thighs and back as well as the muscles that support your knee caps.
- Start on your hands and knees and bring your right knee forward, more or less behind your right wrist.
- Place your ankle in front of your left hip.Keep your left thigh parallel to your hips.
- Slide your left leg back, straighten the knee and point your toes. Keep your hips straight.
- Gently lower yourself down to the ground, using a yoga block for support if needed.
- Stay here for 5 breaths or longer, until your hips feel loose.
- Come out of the pose by pushing back through the hands and lifting the hips. Return to the starting position and switch sides.
13. Tree Pose
By focussing on balance, this pose strengthen the ligaments and tissues around your knee, which keep your kneecap in its place.
- Stand up tall with your feet together and hands resting on your chest in a prayer position.
- Place your weight onto your left heel and lift your right leg, resting your right sole above your right knee or just under it, turning your right knee to the side.
- Find your balance and bring your arms above your head.
- Hold for five breaths, then switch side.
14. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Great for tight hamstrings, low back pain and knee pain, this pose will undo the damage from long hours at your desk.
- Lie comfortably on your back with your legs extended and your arms to your sides.
- Exhale and bend your right knee into your chest. Interlace your fingers around either the back of your right thigh or your right calf, or hook onto the big toe of your right foot with the pointer and middle finger of your right hand. You can also use a strap around the ball of your foot and hold the straps with both hands.
- As you inhale, extend your right leg upwards, lengthening your tailbone down into your mat.
- Extend out actively through the heel of your left foot, and press your left leg firmly down into the ground. Bend your leg slightly if needed.
- Bring your shoulder blades down into your mat and relax your collarbones.
- Hold the pose anywhere from 5 to 20 full, deep breaths. On an exhale, gently bend your right knee into your chest and then release your right leg to the ground.
- Rest for a few breaths, and repeat on the other side.
15. Standing Split
This pose focuses on stretching both legs at the same time. You’ll really feel this one!
- Stand tall with your feet at hip’s width apart and your spine tall and straight.
- Reach above your head, exhale, and bend at the hip.
- Bring both hands to the floor and straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees.
- Shift your weight onto your right foot and on both hands
- Next, raise your left leg up as high as you can behind you.
- For a deeper stretch, walk your hands towards your heel, tuck your chin, relax your shoulders and let your torso follow your hands.
- Internally rotate your left thigh, and square your hips toward the floor. Lower your left leg a bit if you have to.
- Hold for five breaths. Then, slowly lower your left leg to the floor, to return to the starting position.
- Rest, then switch sides.
16. Child’s Pose Variation
This pose keeps you from bending your knees too deeply, preventing injury and further strain.
- Start by sitting on your knees on your yoga mat, with your back tall and the front of your calves on the ground.
- Bring your big toes together to touch, and separate your knees wide enough for your torso to rest in between your thighs.
- Place a rolled blanket or towel behind your knees for extra support. Place your arms in front of you (at shoulder’s width apart), fold forward and place your forehead on a yoga block.Use a block or two to support your elbows if necessary.
- Hold for 10-15 breaths
17. Chair Pose
This pose strengthens the quads, hamstrings, and glutes to ensure your knees are properly supported.
- Stand tall with your feet together and your spine tall and straight.
- Bring your arms above your head.
- Bend at the knees, sitting into your hips and heels. Keep your arms, back and neck straight as you lift your torso away from your thighs.
- Hold for a few breaths, sitting deeper into your hips with every exhale.
18. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
This restorative pose opens up your hips, groin, and thighs to relieve some of the tension in your knees.
- Lie down on your back and bring the soles of your feet together, dropping your knees to the side, opening your thighs and hips.
- Bring your arms out to your sides and open up your chest.
- Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and stay here for 2 minutes.
By following the yoga knee pain treatment above, your knee joints will be as smooth and strong as when you were a child. Make sure to stay hydrated, eat plenty of turmeric, and maintain a healthy weight to keep your knees in tip-top shape!