Stop Hyperextending Your Knees and Elbows in Yoga

Before I attend to this course, I even don’t know what hyperextension is, not even mention such hyperextension may cause permanent damage to our joints, especially for those most mobile joints such as knees and elbows.
1. What is hyperextension?
Hyperextension is the movement or extension of joints, tendons, or muscles beyond the normal limit or range of motion. When you straighten your legs/arms and extend the joints, anatomically your legs/arms should make a 180 degrees angle. If your joints open more than 180 degrees, it is said to have hyperextended.

2. Why we don’t want to hyperextend our joints?
Over time, repeated hyperextending our knees and elbows in yoga pose will cause damage to our soft tissues like muscles, tendons, ligaments surrounding the joints and reduce the stability of the joints. Consequently we may lose the ability to practice yoga in rest of our life.

3. How to avoid/counteract hyperextension of joints?
– Try to avoid locking joints when in a weight bearing pose for both knees and elbows.
– Slightly bend the knees/elbows and bring the joints back to a neutral position
– For hyperextended elbows, in addition to above 2 points, pressing down the forefinger knuckle to manage external rotation in the arm and rolling the upper arms away from each other are also helpful in yoga poses, example like downward facing dog pose (Adhomukha Shvanasana) and high plank
– Same for hyperextended knees, in addition of above 2 points, engaging your hamstrings and calf muscles on the back of your leg and quads on the front of your leg to ensure the ankle, knee and hip in one line will be of great help too, example yoga pose like tree pose (Vrikshasana), forward fold (Uttanasana).
If you are hyperextending joints like me, feel free to share your tips.
Namaste.
Jessica Jiang Junxia, 200hr YTC September 2017 (weekend)