If that pesky knee pain is cramping your style, Bikram may be able to help. Although it's not medicine and doesn't actually cure anything, yoga helps balance your body for improved form during your runs. If your runner's knee comes from posture issues, this can spell relief. That said, serious knee pain requires more than just a trip to the Bikram studio. See your doctor to make sure that there isn't a serious underlying problem, as well as to get the all-clear for Bikram, running and other exercises.
About Runner's Knee
There's more than one way to hurt your knees when you run. Often, runner's knee is an alignment issue; this is most common among seasoned runners, particularly women. In these cases, imbalance prevents the patella, or kneecap, from moving smoothly along its track, causing major pain. However, you can also hurt your knees with overuse, improper form or even wearing the wrong shoes. You most likely feel the effects of runner's knee behind or near the kneecap, but it may also affect the back of the knee.
Bikram is like yoga on steroids. Performed at 105-degree-F temperatures in 40-percent humidity, this workout is guaranteed to make you sweat. It may be tough, but the exercise can whip your muscles, tendons and ligaments into shape, improving balance and flexibility. During Bikram, your heart rate will increase and your muscles will fatigue. More and more athletes are beginning to perform yoga to complement strenuous routines, as it improves performance while minimizing injury risk.
Bikram and Stability
Bikram founder Bikram Choudhury crushed his knee under a 300-pound weight, according to the Bikram website, and helped to restore it with yoga. Indeed, yoga seems to help runners balance knees through poses that focus on stability and alignment, helping the patella stay on course. To receive maximum benefit, it's vital to practice correct form in the Bikram room. When a pose requires parallel feet, angling your foot just a fraction of an inch can set you off balance. But don't turn to Bikram for overuse injury -- that requires time and rest.
The best cure for runner's knee is to avoid it in the first place. At the first sign of discomfort, cut back on your running regimen. It also helps to perform weight-training exercises that build the quadricep muscles and to stretch the iliotibial band, a tendon connecting the knee to the hip. It's important to nip alignment issues in the bud; runner's knee today can turn into osteoarthritis tomorrow if you don't take care of yourself.
Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.