I've been treating myself to a fair amount of bodywork lately (all I can say is ahhhhhhhhh!). Just last week I was getting a myofascial massage during which the massage therapist pushed my knee to my chest and straightened my leg back out on the table. I tend to not fight -- or tense up -- when someone (yes, I'm talking about professionals here, people!) is handling my body. And back when I trained in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and Thai Yoga Massage, I learned a fair amount about handling someone's body. Perhaps that why I noticed myself feeling uncomfortable with how the therapist handled my leg when bending it at the knee and straightening it.
Rather than keeping a slight bend in the knee while straightening my leg or gently straightening my leg and lowering it back to the table with firm traction, the therapist quickly and carelessly pulled my leg back, locking my knee and then dropped it on the table. Okay, perhaps dropped it a bit too strong a description. The point is that I didn't feel confident in her touch and her snapping of my leg didn't feel good.
The bad news is that I didn't like that part of the massage. The good news is that it gave me an inspiration for this post. Knee locking is not good. I know there are rumors out there about knee locking and passing out. I'm not quite sure about that one, but I'll say this -- locking the knee puts undue stress on the body, therefore knocking things out of whack. Yep, I'm nothing if not technical [Disclaimer: No, I'm not a doctor nor do I play one on TV. Heck, I don't even own a TV.]
Just over the holidays I was at a lovely party in which this very topic came up (yep, I go to cool parties in which the subject of knee locking comes up and is debated about freely). We discussed knee locking and knee, hip and back pain. I have experience with this because I used to be a chronic knee-locker. And I'm not the only one -- I see clients do this all of the time during their yoga practice.
My advice: Keep the knees soft, people!
So the awareness tip of the day -- and I have my massage therapist to thank for this -- is this: Notice what's happening to your knees during your yoga practice. Are you locking your knees in Standing Forward Bend or Downward Dog or Warrior Pose? When you lie in Savasana, try placing a bolster under your knees and notice how it feels to have soft knees. How can you bring a little of that feeling into your yoga practice?