How to ruin your knees with yoga, running, tennis or skiing

Via Ricardo das Neves
on Feb 10, 2011
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Hello, boys and girls, this is Mr. Rogers and today we discuss the fine art of ruining your knees.

Can you say “knee replacement surgery?” I hope you never have to.

Actually, ruining your knees is not a fine art. It’s a rough art. You can do it without your parents’ supervision. Just go running in poorly-designed shoes, and after a decade or two, you’ll have managed to whittle that cartilage in your knees down to nothing. What about you, little Timmy? Running’s not your thing? Well, if you like, you can make sharp, quick stops to catch and return little Lindy’s devastating serve on the tennis court. What? You practice yoga? Well, then, they’ve got a couple of yoga poses where you bend your knees and press your feet all the way to the floor, and that will also do the trick! Just ask for them by name: bhekasana and virasana.

So why are we talking about this today? You see, boys and girls, my neighbor Ricardo here is a yoga instructor – that’s right, he gets to act mellow like me for a living. And through the years, he has seen people come into his classes and have trouble with a simple squatting position. Well, you know – it’s simple for him, but not so simple for some of the other boys and girls who are runners or tennis players, or cyclists, or skiers, or like to race boats that require them to be on their knees hanging over one side of the boat, as crazy as that sounds. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you? No? You must have rich parents, then.

Anyway, that’s all stuff my neighbor Ricardo the yoga instructor has seen. He also says things like “the body is an extraordinary self-repairing machine… if you give it enough rest and a chance to repair.” But that’s not going to happen, boys and girls, if you’re pushing yourself or doing competitive sports three days a week, or running ultra-marathons, or stuff like that, because that speeds up the damage like crazy. Of course, you’re all between two and five years old, but someday you’ll be collecting Social Security, and you want to do it without rolling around in a wheelchair, as fun as that may sound to you right now. However, racing in a wheelchair is better than say, tennis or racquetball, because in a wheelchair at least you use both arms, whereas a sport that emphasizes only one side of the body makes you more at risk for injuries because uneven wear makes for weaker bones.

And those yoga poses don’t do your knees any favors either – unless you started practicing yoga inside your mommy’s belly and come out with naturally hyperextended knees. But if you don’t mind helping knee surgeons pay they mortgage, you can bend those knees like there’s no tomorrow.

So that’s why, boys and girls, you’ll never see Mr. Rogers at an Ironman competition. Or on the ski slopes. Or in those intense yoga classes. Why do that when I can get all my exercise from putting on my cardigan sweater at the beginning of each show?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


About Ricardo das Neves

Ricardo das Neves is the author of Unenlightened: Confessions of an Irreverent Yoga Teacher, and is occasionally known to tweet (@spirithumor). See more VISUAL YOGA BLOGS here. When he’s not trying to be funny, he acts very serious teaching yoga classes in and around Seattle. Subscribe to future VISUAL YOGA BLOGS here. Connect with him on Google+


13 Responses to “How to ruin your knees with yoga, running, tennis or skiing”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jack Daw, Red Fox. Red Fox said: How to ruin your knees with yoga, running, tennis or skiing […]

  2. yogi tobye says:

    I've had a dodgy right knee ever since I got run over by a Priest when I was nine…

  3. biibba says:

    yoga helps repair knee problems if done correctly.

  4. Ricardo says:

    Good points, Audrey. I've observed a similar thing in my students: if they were able to sit in Virasana from childhood, then virasana as an adult seems perfectly suited to their knees… the rest of us need to go gentle on them. So it fits the pattern of what you saw in Runner's World. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Ricardo says:

    I hope you've had better relations with his religion since then… 🙂

  6. Ricardo says:

    Would love to hear of your experience and/or actual cases… I think we all believe yoga does wonderful things for us (and it does), but it's no different than any other practice or sport: abuse it, and your body suffers. That being said, do share about asanas that restore cartilage that's no longer there… 🙂

  7. Biibba says:

    Rheumatoid Arthritis, Scoliosis, Synovitis, Cancer… my list could go on
    Have a look at this book:

    Hope this helps 🙂

  8. Daisy says:

    Every Yoga TEACHER should have this book. Instructors probably need not bother.

    The Knees: Supplement to Anatomy and Asana, Preventing Yoga Injuries
    By Susi Hately Aldous

    If your your yoga teacher says something like "Do the pose this way", as if an all-encompassing cue, one might want to run for the hills. In my opinion, modifications are a must! There is not one pose in the room that should look the same for every body in the class.

  9. […] How to ruin your knees with yoga, running, tennis or skiing […]

  10. […] How to ruin your knees with yoga, running, tennis or skiing […]

  11. Dick says:

    I ruined my knees running. It took a long time, but I ruined them. I see again,again and again on the web claims that running is harmless to ones knees. I can only speak from my own experience, and YES IT'S HIGH IMPACT AND WILL DAMAGE YOUR KNEES. I'm 60 now. In my retirement I had dreamed of mountain biking and hiking in the mountains,which I love, now that's all over. All that banging away on concrete and asphalt can damage the cartilage and CARTILAGE DOES NOT REGENERATE. Once it's damaged it's irreversible and only gets worse. What cartilage you have upon achieving adulthood is all you're going to get. Don't play Russian roulette with your precious knees, save them for your old age or you'll be sorry.

  12. Perhaps Emilia can offer her expertise here, but I am not familiar with top, or expert scoliosis physicians here in the US.