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Old 05-16-2002, 09:11 PM   #1
Chandra
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 243
Dear Mukunda,

Would you please comment on the frequently occuring inward turned knee (forward knee) in Trikonasana. I see this very frequently with students, and understand that the cause may vary from individual to individual. My understanding of the anatomy is that the hips are moving in to external rotation, particularly the forward hip, but that it is restricted by the rear hip attempting to maintain it's forward facing position. As the knee is the weaker of the 2 joints, it will tend to "give" before the hip. Therefore, the alignment of the forward knee should be given priority over the position of the back hip to protect the knee joint ligaments. Please comment on the relationship of the internal/external rotators and the adductors/abductors in this pose.

My assessment is that the restricting muscles which cause this would be tight adductors, in conjuction with weak rectus femoris (which will lift and protect the position of the knee cap in alignment to the toes) and weak gluteus medius (external rotator). Hip internal rotators (G. minimus, TFL may also be tight).

In one of my students, I have been watching for clues as to what is happening in her body, in Trikonasana as well as others. Here's what I've noticed:

Standing - knees at slight internal angle compared to feet (about 10 degrees with toes pointing forward) (Tibial torsion rather than internal hip rotation perhaps?)

JFS - Knee flexion - Moving from extension to flexion, foot moves toward opposite thigh, knee toward external hip rotation. (Tight psoas?)

JFS - Sunbird - Hips shift toward supporting knee and difficulty raising leg w/o turning hip open (Weak Glut and hamstring)

Trikonasana - Fwd knee dropping inward - can correct it with attention, given instruction to engage quad to lift kneecap and engage buttock to open hip. She feels this along upper side of thigh (frt leg) - probably iliotibial band stretch?)

Parsvottanasana and WI - Closing the hips is a challenge!!

So- Here I thought it was tight adductors - and weak external rotators, but now I'm confused - maybe the adductors and internal rotators are weak too! Could you please comment on this individual and also generally to clarify my understanding on how the internal/external rotators interact with the adductors/abductors - and it seems maybe the psoas plays a role here too.

As alway - sorry my question is so long! Thanks for your help.
Namaste,
Chandra
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Old 06-06-2002, 12:23 AM   #2
Mukunda
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Chandra - In Utthita Trikonasana the forward leg that one is bending over is in external hip rotation. The posterior hip is in internal hip rotation yet effort is applied to turn it toward external rotation. This action is achieved by strong gluteus maximum and the deep 6 rotators below it. If these muscles are not strong enough to over power their antagonists (the gluteus medius, the result is that the student will lean forward rather than be vertical. This lean will primarily take place in the posterior hip but can also occur in the front hip causing the knees to be unstable. In addition the sartorius which runs diagonally to the inner knee is contracting. If the sartorius is not strong the knee will turn inward as a result of lack of external hip rotation. This can result in a strained inner or posterior knee (the later especially in the case of students with hyperextended knee joint).
The adductors form the greatest mass of muscles of the thigh. they are being pulled to stretch by the action of the external hip rotation. If tight they will pull the top pelvis forward and downward. The abductors are rarely strong enough to compensate for this, but in a dedicated student they can overpower the adductors tightness. The rectus femoris is doing hip flexion on the bottom hip it should remain in a strong position. It is neutral in the back leg.
Your student sounds like she has internal hip rotation excessively and yet we cannot truly assess this from your findings without doing range of motion in hip rotation with all other motions being neutral. From the triangle she is having a weak sartorius and gluteus maximus (as her knee is turning in) and rectus femoris (as the knee is bending due to contraction of hamstrings). The iliotibial band does not stretch in this pose but it should be contracting on the lower hip to assist the rectus femoris and psoas in hip flexion.
Difficulty with closing the hips in Parsvottanasana and Warrior I is due to weakness of the adductors and internal rotators. So overall she sounds like she needs to feel the contractions of the muscles being used in these poses you are citing. Have her do them according to the kinesiology summary notes in my book for these fundamental postures.
Confusion is due to trying to do more than you can comprehend. Best is to analyze through Joint Freeing Series or isolated motions then apply that understanding to whole asanas which are much more complicated in that same muscle can be stretching and toning simultaneously. Best wishes with your kinesiology and body reading studies.
Mukunda
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