A Woman on A Mission

Let’s endure this journey called life!

To Lock Knees or not to Lock – NOT! September 30, 2008

I have a long history with trick knees… ones that lock. Long hauls on the treadmill 7 years ago brought about mild pain in my knees. I just ignored it. I didn’t think it was enough pain to make any fuss over.

Fast forward, after six years of having been sedentary, I am in what I believe to be remission from an illness that I had surgery for that has no direct link to my knees. But now that I feel better, I am exercising a lot which includes a 30 minutes session cycling on a stationary bicycle on level 3 resistance and thereafter a 2 hour yoga session. Two hours may seem long to most, but what I am doing in my yoga session is basic yoga which includes lots of breathing and stretching (nothing like this, of course – nothing all too complicated). In my yoga session, I incorporate homework (physical therapy) given to me by my physical therapist. The below illustrated instructions are mandatory to help strengthen my knees and make my hips more flexible: (click to enlarge)

If you look at the above illustrations closely, you’ll notice how each exercise requires you to LOCK your knees!

I had been exercising since July 19th, 2008 and shorty after, I realized I had all sorts of problems with my full skeleton – more than I had ever imagined which is why I am seeing a chiropractor and began physical therapy at a professional facility. To make a long story short, I had been locking my knees for most of the above stretching exercises.

My knees are worsening to the point where occasionally I cannot walk at ease. I sleep on the floor which forces me to bend my knees to get up which may not be helping my cause. But my knees should not be getting worse… I would like to think. They should be getting better!! So, I decided to research, and I came across a yoga blog that mentioned locking the knee causes undue pressure on it that can cause chronic pain. One commenter in that blog said something that hit me hard:

As a fitness professional and Registered Yoga Teacher, I never allow my students to lock their knees. This is a common yoga technique that I have never agreed with. Not only are you putting excessive pressure and stress on the joint, but you are also missing out on strengthening the muscle surrounding the joint. Locking the knees (or any joint) takes the resistance away from the muscles and places it on the joint. That’s why it’s easier to hold a pose; you are using the joint, instead of the muscle, for support. Our joints don’t need any more stress, but our muscles do. Namaste!

I only wonder if it is never good to lock your knees or just for the standing poses in yoga only? My guess, just for common sense sake is that it really doesn’t sound “right” to lock your knees on purpose (even though I had been instructed to do so according to my physical therapy homework as illustrated above.) A friend of mine said that they could even stay locked…. OUCH! 😯

Does anyone have an opinion about this? I love yoga so much that I’d hate for anything to get in the way of it.