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Many of you know that I have been working on recovering from a knee injury. In doing so I have been doing these 7 stretches every single day (some of them multiple times each day).
For those who don’t know, as a result of a slip and fall accident I suffered a partial ACL tear and got a bone bruise on my knee cap.
Each knee injury is different and unique to the person recovering, so please note that what works for me may be what makes your injury worse. As this is a blog post shared on the internet, I can’t be beside you to give personal guidance. Please proceed with caution, speak with your doctor, and know that the following is what I have been doing to recover from MY injury.
These stretches have to do with releasing hip flexors, working the quads as best as you can, and opening up your hamstrings.
As I can’t put any pressure directly on my knee I needed to get creative with my stretches and use props. One prop I have been finding useful is a set of these yoga jellies to provide extra cushioning. These are not necessary for this routine, but you will definitely want to have 2 blocks at the ready.
Injuries are really humbling, it has been interesting to note the changes the body goes through as it heals.
I have been doing a stretch routine and also a strength routine for my rehabilitation, stay tuned for the latter coming soon.
1. Passive Straight Forward Fold – Sitting on your mat, bring your legs and feet out straight and hip width distance apart. Soften in to the forward fold, hinging at the hips. Keep a small bend in your knees and be sure you aren’t going past your full range of motion. As I am currently quite limited and stiff, I use a block or two between the legs to support the head. Hold this fold for about 10 breaths. Find your edge, where you experience a little bit of sensation, but not too much that it becomes painful. Breathe deeply as you relax the shoulders, chest and upper back. After holding here, stay mindful of the low back as you roll your way back up.
2. Supported Bridge – Set both blocks close by, as you come to lay on your back. Try to bend your knees as much as possible, and bring soles to the mat. Pushing in to your feet, lift your hips and slide a block underneath for support. Take a few deep breaths here. If you have them, you may want to add a yoga jelly here for extra padding. To get deeper, you may opt to straighten your legs next. If this is too much in the low back, then lower your block or return back to the first variation with knees bent. Take a few additional breaths here.
3. Reclined Lunge (No weight on the knee) – Bend knees returning to supported bridge. This pose will get deep in to the hip flexors, a similar sensation to if you were doing a low lunge, but on your back. Lower the block to the lowest level and stack a second block on top to lift the hips higher (or not if this is too much sensation). Again I place the yoga jelly on top of the blocks here for extra cushioning. Straighten the injured leg first, for me that is the right, and draw the other leg in towards the chest. You may need to use a strap, or clasp hold or the back of the thigh or front of the shin, whatever is accessible right now. Reach out with the extended leg, flexing the foot and pushing the heel away, but ensuring you aren’t over stretching the knee. Breathe in to the aches and pains. I personally have been doing this stretch 3 or 4 times throughout the day. Slowly and mindfully switch sides. Lowering the lifted leg down and extending it out. Lifting the injured leg, holding on to the thigh. Use your opposite hand to support the calf muscle, and then slowly lower the foot down as much as you can. Play around with the placement of the hands, to find what works best for you. Leaving the supporting hand there will ensure you don’t accidentally go too far. The longer and more often you do this pose, the more range of motion you will hopefully find. Return to supported bridge. Push in to the feet to lift the hips and slide the blocks out so you can lower hips all the way down.
4. Laying Spinal Twist – Pull your right knee in to the chest, interlacing your fingers behind the thigh and try to extend it straight up. Let your left leg extend straight on the mat. You may be able to slide your hands further up the lifted leg, to the calf, ankles or toes. You may also want to keep a purposeful bend in the knee, being gentle and mindful of your progression day after day. Sway the leg slowly, opening it out to the side, bringing back to center, and over-crossing it slightly to the left. Repeat a few times. Next, cross the right leg to lower it all the way to the left side for your laying spinal twist. Reach the right arm out to the right side, and use your left hand to support your right leg. If the stretch is too intense, bend the right knee. Take about 5 deep breaths here. Repeat this through on the other side, to keep things even and not just work on the injured side.
5. Half Happy Baby – With the left sole down to the mat, draw your right thigh in to your belly and clasp hold of the back of the thigh. Try to maintain a 90 degree angle in the right knee. Flex your right foot. Keep your hip, knee and ankle in line, so they are doing the same thing. Relax here, but every so often push your foot in to your hand to ensure it stays active and check in with how it feels.
6. Reclined Pigeon Pose – Cross your right ankle as close to the top of the thigh as possible. Keep the foot flexed. Try to push your right knee away from you. This might be more than enough, in the first week of my recovery this was all I could do. Now that I have a bit more motion, I’m able to pick the left leg up off of the floor. If you are lifting the left foot too, hold on to the back of left thigh or front of the shin.
7. IT Band Stretch – Keeping the figure four position with the legs. Return your left foot back down to the floor. Then drop your left knee to the floor as you try to bring the right foot down to the left side too. If it remains lifted, bring a block underneath it. I place a jelly on the floor under my foot for extra traction. Keep your knee from buckling in. Remember that what your foot is doing, your knee and hip should also be doing. Either hold on to your ankle or use your hand to very lightly open the thigh away from you. Reach the right arm out to the side to complete the twist. Release the grip, lifting the legs back up and uncross them.
Repeat 5-7 through on the other side, starting with Half Happy Baby, to ensure you aren’t forgetting one side because the other is injured.
If you would find it easier to see and hear me guiding you through these stretches, follow along with the video below.
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