Practicing from the Sidelines, Part 4

In part 1, part 2, and part 3 of this series, we look at ways injury will affect your practice and at strategies for coping. Let’s drill down further into ways to modify a few common poses to work around injury in the lower body. This could be anything from arthritis in the toes to sprained ankles to knee and hip problems. One of my favorite workarounds is to modify a pose’s relationship to gravity. This can alleviate much of the load in the pose while still addressing muscles, connective tissues, and joints in beneficial ways. Try these only if they feel good; defer to your health care team if you are in immediate recovery from an acute injury or post surgery.

If it hurts to lunge:

Half happy baby

Try a half happy baby. Lie on your back and bend one knee in. Depending on what feels best, you can hug your shin, or point the sole of your foot toward the ceiling. By pulling your bent leg more toward center or the side, you can stretch your inner thigh and outer hip with no pressure on the knee, ankle, and foot, and less strain on the hip. As a bonus, this stretches the front of the base leg, too.

If it hurts to squat:

Full happy baby

Try a full happy baby. As in half happy baby, you’ll rest on your back with your knees bent, holding your shins, backs or your knees, or feet as feels good.

If it hurts to kneel:

Side-lying quad stretch Gentler side-lying quad stretch

Lie on your side and either hold your foot in your hand or, if that hurts, place your top knee facing up and that foot on the floor. You’ll stretch your quads and hip flexors gently without bringing your knee into deep flexion.

—Sage

P.S. We’ve got a final cover for Lifelong Yoga! You can now preorder it at your favorite bookstore—links are here.

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Sage Rountree

Sage Rountree is author of six books on yoga for athletes, most recently Everyday Yoga.

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