My knee started hurting in April of 2014. The pain came on few days after we landed in Chicago after nearly 2 years in India. Chicago was going through an unusually cold spring and I used to joke with my friends and family that my knee went through a culture shock after being in sweltering India and lending in freezing Chicago also known as the windy city. This summer’s fun activities with my kids and the final river rafting trip left me unable to put much weight on my knee, much less joke about it.
The physical therapist concluded after spending just few short minutes with me that I have injured my ACL or anterior cruciate ligament. ACL runs diagonally in the middle of the knee. It prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur, as well as provides rotational stability to the knee.
This injury happened due to knee valgus which is characterized by hip adduction and hip internal rotation, usually when in a hips-flexed position. It can also be thought of as knee caving as you sink down into a squat or landing.
Valgus collapse usually happens during squatting, lunging, jumping, landing, climbing and descending stairs, and even during gait/running. I also learnt that women are more prone to experiencing knee valgus due to their proportionately wider hips, increased Q-angles, diminished hip strength, and in many cases from being taught to “sit like a lady”.
So all this time I have been climbing and descending stairs, doing Nataraja asana (http://total-yoga.org/portfolio-items/natrajasana/), Utkatasana (http://total-yoga.org/portfolio-items/utkatasana-chair-pose/) and several other poses with my knees caving in.
At first, I tried too hard to over correct this and made my knee hurt even more. I have since had to allow my knee to just rest accompanied with heat and cold therapy, herbal supplements and come back to my yoga mat in baby steps building up the strength in my thighs, getting stronger and accustomed to squatting with my legs angled outward and avoiding most of the asanas that could further strain it.
It is a long and uncertain road to recovery as the x-rays and scans get looked over, doctors and specialists come to a conclusion but I know that this injury has made me pause and question how present and in the moment I am on my mat and how I can further help people with injuries who come to share this amazing practice with me.
Slavica Gokul is a certified Vinyasa, Hatha and Power yoga teacher through Total Yoga in Bangalore, India. She has been an aspiring yogi for more than 20 years. She dedicated herself to consistent practice 9 years ago and while residing in India from 2012-14 underwent teacher training.