I recently received this question:
Hello Bernie, my question is this. I have been needing to open up the groin/adductor group, and I found the wall straddle to be a comfortable way of approaching that at this point. I saw someone in a video saying the occasinally you may feel a sensation on the medial knee area and that this was not good. They said you should correct that be rotating the foot a little (although I am not quite sure what that meant or what way to rotate). Could you help me to understand what the mean? Thanks so much!! Donna
Hi Donna - First, let me just confirm - are YOU feeling pain in the inner (medial side) of the knee? This can happen when the adductors are quite tight and the stress of the posture really affects the ligaments and tendons on the inner knee, and/or if you have a slight tear here, to the ligaments or the medial meniscus (which is connected to the ligaments.) Normally, if this sensation arose in regular Straddle Pose, the advice is to slightly narrow your legs, or Sarah Powers suggests slightly engaging your quads to relieve the stress. However in Wall Straddle the legs do tend to go to their limit and it is not easy to back off a little. Diana Batts (a Yin Yoga teacher who assists me in my trainings) often offers to her students two straps joined together and looped around the feet. Tighten the belts enough so the legs don’t go to their maximum distance, but to where you feel something. This may prevent your pain in the inner knee. (Look for an example and picture of using straps in Wall Straddle in my January 2014 Newsletter where I will be talking about use of props in Yin Yoga.)
I have not heard of the idea of rotating the legs to reduce sensation in the inner knees, but I can imagine that internal rotation, which uses the adductor muscles, may decrease the width of the legs, but at the expense of increasing the pull on the inner knees. External rotation of the feet may allow the adductors to relax, decreasing stress on the medial knees, but it may allow even greater range of motion, which could again increase the stress. Ideally, you have to try it for yourself and forget the theory: does it work? If so, do it. If not, don’t do it. Experiment with both movements and see what works for you.
I hope this helps.