We know that running doesn’t cause permanent damage to your knees–but it does occasionally cause soreness. Ramping up mileage too quickly, too soon can cause achiness in the ligaments and tendons around your knee joints, and even experienced runners sometimes make this mistake. Try these poses to soothe the soreness–you’ll also strengthen the muscles in your quads and hamstrings, preventing your knees from becoming inflamed in the future.
Make sure you exercise caution when easing into these stretches: if your knees are swollen or particularly tender, it’s a good idea to visit a medical practitioner to rule out any injuries.
Supported bridge pose
Elevating your hips in this pose can provide a mild stretch to the hip flexors without putting excessive pressure on the knees, and it helps gently release any tightness in the ligaments and tendons that surround the knees.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip-width apart, placing a yoga block (you can substitute a big book or rolled-up blanket) under your sacrum (the flat bone at the base of your spine).
Relax your arms by your sides with palms facing up, and let your knees gently fall open.
Stay in this pose for one to three minutes, focusing on breathing deeply and softening into the stretch.
Gentle seated forward bend
Keeping a slight bend in the knees in this pose makes it more accessible for individuals with knee sensitivity, and also provides a gentle stretch to the hamstrings and lower back.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended straight in front of you.
Inhale as you sit up tall, lengthening your spine, then exhale as you hinge at your hips to fold forward.
Knees can stay bent here–as much as you need in order to move into the stretch without a lot of discomfort.
Hold onto your shins, ankles or feet, depending on your flexibility and how deeply you feel like stretching.
Aim to hold for 30 seconds to one minute to start.
Supine hand-to-big-toe pose
Lie on your back and extend one leg straight down the floor or mat.
Loop a yoga strap, belt or dish towel around the sole of the foot of the extended leg. Hold the strap with both hands and gently bring the leg towards your chest.
Your other leg can extend down the floor, or you can plant your foot with your knee bent–whatever feels best.
Hold for 30 seconds to one minute before switching to the other leg.
Adjust all of these poses according to your ability and level of comfort. There are no hard-and-fast rules here, and while your goal may be to feel a stretch, ease off and adjust if you feel any pain, numbness or tingling.