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Four yoga poses for strengthening and stretching knees

This is an excerpt from Yoga for Runners edited by Christine Felstead.

Yoga Poses for the Knee

Many of the yoga poses in subsequent chapters will help create healthy knees. Balancing the hips; strengthening and stretching the muscles in the legs and the feet; and improving core strength all have a positive effect on the health of the knees. The poses and exercises in this section are additional remedial work for those suffering from knee issues.

Equal Standing


  1. Perform the action as described in Yoga Poses for the Foot and Ankle.
  2. Keep the hip, knee, and ankle joints in alignment.
  3. Contract the quadriceps, especially the inner quads. Ensure that the back of the knees are soft.


  • Strengthens the inner quadriceps
  • Balances the strength of the inner and outer quadriceps
  • Encourages proper alignment of the lower body

Wall Squat


  1. Standing in front of a wall, bend the legs and rest the upper body at the wall; then walk the feet forward until the legs are at 90 degrees.
  2. Align the feet so they are parallel and hip-distance apart, and keep the knees over the ankles. It may be helpful to place a yoga block between the knees and press the inner knees into the block. Do not let the knees splay; keep them directly over the ankles.
  3. Press evenly into the feet, as in equal standing.
  4. Contract the hamstrings to support the knees.
  5. Press the lower back into the wall and keep the head upright.
  6. Correct alignment is crucial. It is helpful to do this exercise in front of a mirror to be certain of feet and leg alignment.


  • Strengthens the inner quads
  • Stretches the outer quads
  • Strengthens the hamstrings
  • Promotes proper alignment

Half Frog


  1. Lie prone with the legs extended. Press the front hip bones to the floor.
  2. Bend the right leg and take the right hand to the top of the foot. Press the heel toward the right buttock, keeping the hip bone grounded.
  3. Place the left arm in front of the body, press the forearm to the floor, and lift the chest.
  4. Repeat on the other side.
  5. Ensure a stretch is felt in the quadriceps with no pain or extreme tugging action at the knee joint.


  • Stretches the quadriceps and psoas major
  • Strengthens the back muscles

Quadriceps and Iliotibial Band Rollouts


  1. Lie prone on a foam roller, placing the roller under the quadriceps.
  2. Press the forearms into the floor and roll forward and back, sliding along the roller from the top to the bottom of the thighs. Do not roll over the knees or hip joints.
  3. Repeat several times.
  4. Roll to one side and continue rolling along the side of the upper thigh for a deep massage effect on the iliotibial band.
  5. For both rollouts:
  • Start with the feet resting on the floor, but eventually bring the feet off the floor with both legs straight.
  • As you roll out the length of the front and sides of the thighs, you will likely encounter one or two spots that are particularly painful. Rather than avoid such a spot, remain here, release your body weight into the roller, and allow the tight spot to soften.


  • Releases tightness in the quadriceps and iliotibial band
  • Soothingly self-massages tight muscles
  • Increases the flexibility of muscles that attach to the iliotibial band
  • Breaks down the tiny lesions that form between the muscles and the fascia

Learn more about Yoga for Runners.

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