Why Do My Knees Hurt When Kneeling In Yoga?

Knee pain isn’t a pleasant side effect of yoga. Unfortunately, pain in the knees while kneeling is something many individuals experience in yoga. Your knees are a sensitive part of your body, so you need to take care of them. Many folks turn to yoga as a method of recovery after a knee injury, but your knees may experience pain without the proper form. 

If you’re unsure how to correct the issue, you’re in the right place. We’ll walk you through the common causes of knee pain in yoga and how to fix them, so continue reading to learn more!

Is It Normal For My Knees To Hurt During Yoga?

Your knees shouldn’t hurt throughout your yoga flow. If they do, there’s a good chance you’re overestimating what your body is ready for or doing the move wrong. You need to learn to recognize the difference between a healthy stretch and going overboard to the point where your body pushes back. 

Overestimating what your body is ready for is easy to do, so pay attention to what your body is telling you. You shouldn’t feel sharp pains, aching, or pinching in your knees while kneeling. If you do, there’s a good chance your form is skewed, or your body isn’t quite ready for the pose. 

What Causes Knee Pain When Kneeling In Yoga?

Generally, knee pain is the result of pushing your body too far, tight muscles, or improper form. For example, if you have incredibly tight quadriceps and try to sit back on your calves in a kneeling pose, you might feel a sharp pain in your knee. In this particular scenario, your body is warning you not to push too hard, as doing so could result in an injury. 

Alternatively, the pain could be caused by improper form. Kneeling seems simple enough, but most yoga postures mix up the pose somewhat, putting pressure and challenging different parts of your knees. So, it’s crucial to get the form right. 

Another possibility is simply pushing too far too quickly. If you’re new to yoga, you need to take it slow and let your body get accustomed to the different style of exercise. You might notice knee pain if you push your body too far when it isn’t ready. Try slow it down and deepen the moves as your body feels ready. 

Knee Anatomy

To help you better understand why you’re experiencing knee pain in a kneeling pose, let’s take a peek at the basics of your knee anatomy. We won’t get too technical, we promise!

Your knee is made up of multiple tendons and ligaments connected to your patellas (knee caps). The knee itself is highly influenced by the joints above (ankle) and below (hip joint). Knee injuries are often directly or indirectly correlated with dysfunction in one or both of the surrounding joints. 

Our knees hold a large amount of our body weight, so they need to be strong enough to support us. On top of that, the knee needs to be flexible enough to cope with the adaptations made by the ankle and foot. 

There are four main ligaments in your knee:

  • Collateral ligaments: These two ligaments connect your femur to the tibia inside and outside your knee. They prevent the knee from buckling in or out but also help resist knee rotation when flexed. 
  • Cruciate ligaments: These two ligaments are on the inside of the knee. They work as the primary stabilizer of the knee, ensuring the femur and tibia stay close together. The anterior ligament prevents the tibia from sliding forward under the femur and excessive internal rotation of the flexed knee. The posterior ligament prevents the tibia from sliding back under the femur. 

When these ligaments and tendons are stressed or pulled improperly, you will experience knee pain. So, to keep your knees happy, you need to maintain good form and work within your limits. 

How Do You Stop Knee Pain When Kneeling?

Knee pain is enough to deter many folks from continuing their yoga practices altogether. We understand – knee pain isn’t any fun. However, instead of throwing in the towel on yoga, there are a few things you can change to prevent knee pain during a kneeling pose. 

Learn To Recognize A Safe Stretch

It’s essential to recognize the difference between a safe, healthy stretch and one that is doing more bad than good. A healthy stretch should give you a sense of relief after the stretch, like releasing tension from your muscles. 

However, you shouldn’t feel any aching, pinching, or sharp pains in your knee. If you notice these sensations, your body is trying to communicate discomfort. This isn’t an area where you should push yourself or force your body to hold the pose. Doing so could damage your knees and the surrounding muscle groups, so remember to listen to your body. 

When your body tells you to slow down, follow its cues. Come out of the pose and switch to a modified version. Alternatively, try the same pose without going as deep into the pose. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Modify

Many folks want to push their bodies to follow the yoga instructor’s cues and poses. However, every fitness level is different. On top of that, your yoga teacher might have much more experience than you. 

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere. There’s no shame in modifying – you’re listening to your body and respecting its boundaries. Ask your instructor for modifications and alternative cues before the class or after they explain the next pose. 

Correct Your Form

One of the most common reasons for pain while kneeling in yoga is incorrect form. While kneeling might seem like a straightforward pose, it’s not as simple as it appears. There’s a lot going on in your knees, so incorrect form may strain certain parts of your knee, causing pain. 

Pay close attention to your instructor and their form. Check with your instructor if you’re unsure how to achieve the proper form. In some scenarios, it might be best to switch to a modified pose or relieve stress on your knees by not going as deep into the pose. 

Support Your Knees

Your knees are sensitive, so a bit of extra TLC goes a long way. Support your knees in kneeling poses by using a thicker yoga mat or a towel to cushion your knees. Kneeling on hard surfaces can be hard on your knees, so incorporate a bit of extra support. 

There are thicker yoga mats available that are perfect for restorative yoga practices but are especially helpful for those who experience knee pain while kneeling. These mats can be tricky to work with in more active yoga flows, so you might want to invest in a few mats, one thicker and one thinner. 

Or, if you prefer not to buy multiple mats, bring a towel with you to your yoga class for extra knee support.