How To Avoid Hyperextension In Hot Yoga
Yoga is amazing for so many reasons. Practicing regularly has been shown to improve strength, flexibility, and balance, heart health, and the symptoms of chronic pain. Yoga can also help you improve energy and mood, get better sleep (because of its relaxation benefits), and manage stress levels for a more calm and centered mind.
Doing hot yoga can have even more health benefits, such as burning more calories, helping to strengthen bones, lowering blood sugar levels, and improving skin health. Whether you’re a hot yoga or “regular” yoga enthusiast, participating in regular practice can help your overall health for years to come. But with that being said, doing yoga – hot or not – can come with some risks.
As with any other exercise, there is a chance that you may injure yourself by doing a pose the wrong way or pushing yourself too hard when your body just isn’t ready for it. One such injury that could happen while doing yoga is hyperextension. So is hyperextension in hot yoga a particular risk? Let’s look into it.
What is hyperextension?
Hyperextension revolves around the range of motion of the joints. Each person has their own range of motion when it comes to moving a joint in any direction before it cannot be moved further. Even different joints in the same body will have varying ranges of motion. The two ranges of motion for every joint in your body are flexion, which means bending, and extension, which means straightening.
When you attempt to straighten a joint beyond its range of motion, you end up suffering from something called hyperextension. Forcing your joint in a direction that it simply cannot go causes damage to the tissues that surround the joint. If the hyperextension is more severe, you could even stretch or tear ligaments, which could lead to a higher risk of dislocation.
The most common types of injuries that occur with hyperextension occur to the knees, elbows, fingers, neck, ankles, and shoulder joints. Symptoms of hyperextension can include a popping or cracking sound, pain when you touch or move the joint, and swelling or bruising. These symptoms will vary depending on the joint that’s been affected.
Image by Emily Sea on Unsplash: Hyperextension in yoga typically happens to the knees.
What is hyperextension in yoga?
Hyperextension in yoga occurs when you are holding a pose and, during the hold, you straighten one of your legs beyond your typical range of motion. Hyperextension in yoga is a common occurrence, especially for people who have little to no experience and are not holding poses correctly.
Hot yoga hyperextension is essentially the same as any other type of hyperextension, except there are some differences. Bikram hot yoga, for example, tells students to lock their knees when they hold poses. This is not to be confused with the medical version of a knee lock (which requires medical attention because it is actually an injury), but rather a way to align the knee so that when you’re holding a pose, you are able to stabilize yourself.
The problem with locking a knee in hot yoga is that many people attempt to do it by bending the knee back, and essentially hyperextending it, to hold the pose.
Is hot yoga good for bad knees?
Since hyperextension in hot yoga is heavily focused on the knee joint and poses using the knees, many people may be wondering if it is worth it to hot yoga if they already have bad knees. The answer is that it can be, as long as you’re doing it right. The trick is to avoid hyperextension by practicing a neutral knee position when holding poses.
A neutral knee position has your leg in a straight line, with the bones stacked on top of one another. During this neutral knee position, you will have to activate the muscles in your legs, such as the quads and hamstrings, to help support your body further without relying solely on your knee to hold you up. The kneecap should always be facing forward, and weight needs to be distributed evenly on your feet.
If you are interested in doing hot yoga but are worried about any existing knee issues, there are things you can do to help prevent injury. Most important is listening to your body and finding an instructor you can work with. Most instructors will be able to help you with modifications so that you can build up strength before going straight for a pose that could damage your knee further.
Image by Madison Lavern on Unsplash: Hyperextending your knee during yoga can lead to injury.
How can hyperextension be prevented?
If you practice yoga, you need to know the right way to move your body to ensure you don’t hyperextend and cause injury. To avoid hyperextension, you can do the following…
Pay close attention to your body
When getting into poses that may hyperextend your knee, such as triangle pose, you’ll want to focus heavily on the line of your leg and whether your knee is falling behind where it should be. If it is, readjust and make sure that your leg is in a straight line all the way down.
Use a knee brace
If you can’t seem to control hyperextension, you can try a knee brace around your hyperextending knee joints to help minimize the backwards range of motion. Knee braces also give you more control over movement and provide stability.
Practice triangle pose in between practices
Since this pose runs the risk of hyperextending the knee, work on it separately to learn how to avoid hyperextending.
Take the time to warm up and cool down after workouts
In some types of yoga, the warmup and cool down are added right into the practice. If you do other types of exercise outside of yoga, you’ll want to make sure that you’re treating your knee joints right. You can do this by taking the time to warm up the joints and muscles before jumping into strenuous exercise and giving yourself time to properly stretch and relax once your workout is done.
Sometimes hyperextension feels unavoidable, especially if you’re the type of person who has natural hyperextension in your knees. The important thing to remember is that hyperextension can lead to injury, and nobody wants that. When practicing yoga, make sure you’re paying attention to your body and “locking” your knee in a neutral way to avoid an injury.
Featured image by Ginny Rose Stewart on Unsplash
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