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Yoga after knee surgery

Ten days after my knee surgery (I had a meniscus tear and a medial patellar plica that had to be fixed during an arthroscopic surgery) and after three sessions with my physical therapist, it was time to take out my yoga mat. I had the urge to stretch, to do something for my back and shoulders after all the sitting and lying down and to find out whether some Asanas would work out or even help with the healing process of my left knee.
Although I still cannot straighten my left knee fully and can hardly bend it to 90 degree, it went better than I thought and I would like to share my tiny little practice with you.

IMPORTANT: Please note that I’m not a medical practitioner or doctor but a patient myself. As always in your Yoga practice but especially with an injury, make sure to listen to your body and do not force yourself into any positions. If in doubt, ask your doctor or physical therapist which exercises you should or should not perform. In any case: Have patience!

I start the practice with Tadasana, with both knees bent more than usual to ensure both feet are properly grounded. From mountain pose, I stretch into palm tree pose a couple of times. Then, I fold into Uttanasana although I have to bend both knees slightly as I still cannot straighten the injured knee fully.

From forward fold with little steps back I can make it into Downward Facing Dog. OK, my Adho Mukha Svanasana won’t make it in the hall of fame of perfectly aligned Down Dogs of all time, but the first time I tried it, I was surprised I could even make it this far.
Resting there for a couple of breaths feels great, as the shoulders, the back stretches and the body starts to feel alive again.
Again with baby steps, come back from Down Dog to Uttanasana and from there back to standing.
Repeating this a couple of time is perfect to waking up the muscles.

I decided to not go further with any other standing poses, I think it’s still too early to stress my knee to this extend.
Instead, I continue with seated positions, although getting down (and up again) is quite challenging, too…
Here are some suggestions and modifications:

Dandasana – staff pose: Perfect to stretch and activate the muscles of the legs.

Paschimottanasana– seated forward bend: I have to admit that this has never been one of my favorite Asanas and now that I’m feeling a little rusty it’s even more difficult for me. I tell myself that it’s not important how much I can bend forward. It will come with time. It also helps to place a rolled up blanket under the knees.

Ardha Matsyendrasana – seated spinal twist: I have to alter this position as my knee doesn’t come as high up as it should but that doesn’t matter. The twist is still there and especially after all the sitting and lying down during the past days my spine really loves it.

Purvottanasana – upward plank pose: Although I couldn’t get my feet flat on the ground, it feels great to stretch the shoulders, chest, and front ankles, to open the chest and the heart.

yoga_after_knee_surgery
Salamba Sarvangasana – shoulder stand: Without worrying about straightening the legs fully or a bolt-upright position, inversions like shoulder stand or legs up the wall are relieving and nice way to reduce swelling.

Halasana – plow pose: Here comes the thing with feeling rusty again. Although, Halasana used to be one of my preferred Asanas, I’m struggling with it now. I can make my toes touch the ground, but with bent knees only.

Matsyasana – fish pose: Ideal counter pose follwing Halasana. Great chest and heart opener. I am surprised that it is easier to try to straighten the knees in this position.

Supported backbends: With the support of my Yoga Wheel, I also dare to try some backbends. It’s fun to play around a little although the injured knee often is in the way. Rolling up and down the wheel is a good way to test out your boundaries.

yoga_with_knee_injury

Yesterday, I felt really good at the end of the practice, so I decided to hop on my Feet Up and go upside down. I struggled at first, as usually my right leg goes up first, but once I was up it felt great and again very relieving to put the swollen knee above the head.

feetup

 

This will be my routine for the next couple of days. Depending on how it’s going ahead, I’ll add more Asanas to it or come up with new modifications. In the end it doesn’t matter how it looks or how well it’s executed. It helps the healing progress, eases my mind and makes me see things a bit more relaxed.

Have you suffered an injury, too? How did you start your Yoga practice again? I’m looking forward to hearing your stories.

Andrea

5 thoughts on “Yoga after knee surgery

  1. Amazing! Thank you so much x
    I’m just recovering from my 2nd round of knee surgery.. so both knees are very weak. it’s difficult to keep the motivation and patience but this has helped a lot… ! :o)

    1. That’s so good to hear, I’m happy that my blog post helped with your motivation.
      All the best for you and keep your yoga practice an patience up :-)

  2. Yes, you have inspired me as well. I injured both of my knees in a freak accident three weeks ago and I’m still in pain. I was researching knee injuries and yoga and came across your blog. I will get the results from my x-rays in two days. I am hopeful that there is no need for surgery. Whatever the outcome is, thanks for showing me some safe yoga moves after a knee injury. Yoga is my everything!

  3. Broken patella….no bending brace on for 7 weeks….wiggled, flexed, pointed toes, foot rotations at ankle first moves…..then slowly could lift the leg….aha! Both legs lifted, kept trying to strengthen the working leg and forward folds, seated the best in those first non bending days….
    Now PT and have some movement in my knee….went back to teach my Yin class 3 weeks ago and developed some modifications for spinal twists (seated and supine) and discovered that sleeping swan on broke leg enable me to practice my split! Hamstrings always loose so real work is in strengthening the quads….can now do “baby” butterflies. Cat/cows from seated position still needed can’t execute dragon poses yet on good leg…..gotta take it easy and be patient….your journey is inspiring and I’m eating up all kinds of good ideas as well as working hard in my 6 week PT recovery program…..Also love sphinx and working into a little baby frog, with prop under belly!!! Thanks for the post!

    1. Dear Maureen, that sounds like a challenging journey. So good to hear that you’re working on it and making progress, slowly but steady. All the best for you and your recovery!

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