We hear it so much in class, “Lock the knee!” What is so important about locking the knee? And how can we do it properly for the 462 postures where we are instructed to do so? It’s important to understand what a locked knee means because many people may simply hyper-extend their knee joint, and all that does is create stretched out ligaments. So here’s what it means.
Locking the knee means you’ve engaged every muscle in the leg, not simply pushed your kneecap backwards. You have to be standing with your leg straight for sure, but more importantly, you MUST ENGAGE YOUR QUADRICEP so that your thigh muscle is contracted and firm. This is going to keep the leg in a healthy degree of “lamppost” angle.
In addition to supporting your knee cap, a tight quadricep forces the hamstring to relax due to “reciprocal inhibition,” which is when one muscle works hard and the opposing one relaxes. During poses where we pull with our biceps, we see the same thing happening. Engaging the biceps forces our necks and backs to relax.
So rather than simply hyper-extend your leg, and placing all of your weight on a leg which feels over taxed and wobbly, first work on tightening that thigh muscle. As we’re told in class, each pose is detailed as it might someday be, not necessarily where you are. When it’s time to to do “Standing Head to Knee” maybe you need to work on standing on a truly locked out knee before you lift up your other leg. It’s harder than many think to stand on a leg which is solid concrete, like a lamppost.
If you have any tips on how you accomplished the standing series on a healthfully locked out knee, please share!
Posted by Liz Alfano