Work on strengthening all of your leg muscles — hamstrings to hips — for pain-free knees. This will prevent uneven strain on the joints.
Feeling weak in the knees? Well, it could be from falling in love, but it can also stem from out-of-whack muscles. Here are some tips for pain-free knees from yoga therapist Judi Bar, the yoga program manager at the Cleveland Clinic, and Sally Sherwin, a registered yoga teacher:
• Always keep the knees soft; avoid locking or hyperextending them.
• Keep your toes and feet pointed forward when sitting, standing and walking, with your knees hip-distance apart.
• Avoid sitting on your heels, especially with the feet turned out. This puts a lot of pressure on the knee joints and overstretches kneecap tendons.
• Before you exercise, warm up your leg and foot muscles as well as your hip and ankle joints. This will protect the knees and help prevent injuries. While standing, make gentle, circular motions with the hips to help warm and lubricate the hips, knees, and ankles. To tone your feet, try standing on tiptoe while you hold the back of a chair, if needed, for balance.
• Yoga can keep your knees strong and sturdy by helping to build and maintain proper alignment, strength and flexibility. Work on building strength and flexibility in your quads, hamstrings, abductors and adductors, because evenly balanced leg muscles keep the knees aligned. Chair pose is a great leg strengthener. Here’s how to do it: Stand tall with hips, knees and ankles in alignment. Knees should be hip-width apart with feet pointing forward. Gently bend the knees while leaning forward from the hips with a straight back (pretend you’re about to sit down in a chair). Once your back is at a 45-degree angle, hold the posture, keeping your knees hip-width apart (don’t let them roll in or out). Keep breathing gently and evenly. For a cardio benefit, raise your arms out straight at the same angle as your back. Try to build up to a longer hold.