By Dr. Patrick Jean-Pierre MD
Knee pain can be a serious problem. Not only does it reduce the enjoyment of sports and athleticism, but it can also drive you away from exercise and lead to serious health consequences. One of the most common causes of knee pain is patellar tendonitis. If you are suffering from this injury, there is no need to be discouraged. Many of my patients recover completely when they focus on exercises for patellar tendonitis. In some cases, they come out stronger than they were before.
Keep reading to learn the single biggest risk factor and how to treat patellar tendonitis.
Soreness and pain just below the kneecap or upper shin are the major symptoms of patellar tendonitis, also called jumper’s knee. The condition is common for people who play volleyball and basketball. It’s so common, in fact, that half of elite volleyball players and one in six amateur players suffer from the condition.
If your ankles do not flex well in the upper direction, your risk of patellar tendonitis is 16 times greater than average. Flexibility is extremely important, but a sprain can make you more susceptible to tendonitis, as well. You should know what is good for sprains so you can recover quickly and maintain your full range of motion.
Repeated stress can cause microscopic tears in your patellar tendon that lead to inflammation. These tears heal pretty quickly, but for people who jump and land a lot, new tears can form faster than the old tears can heal. When this happens, the person suffers from chronic inflammation that gets in the way of enjoying sports and can decrease their performance. If the inflammation lasts long enough, it can even lead to surgery or permanent injury.
There are many causes of patellar tendonitis or jumper’s knee, but quite often the problem is an inadequate focus on physical fitness. When you have a high activity level, you need to ensure your entire body is getting a balanced amount of exercise.
Almost everyone who suffers from tendonitis can see improvement, and most can heal completely. In many cases, you can make your knees stronger and more resilient than they were before the injury.
If you are experiencing patellar tendonitis, the first thing you need to do is check your equipment. Sometimes athletes don’t use the appropriate shoes or get the proper support to keep themselves safe.
If you’re using bad shoes, you’re definitely heading for trouble. The wrong shoes will make a bad situation worse. Personally, I use the best squat shoes I can find. Unless your feet and ankles have adequate support, you could be running the risk of serious discomfort and injury. You’ll also see a decrease in your performance and endurance, regardless of the activities you enjoy.
One of the best ways to protect against tendonitis is through massage. A high-quality home massager like the Hyperice Hypervolt is a great way to protect against injury and keep your tendons flexible. For at-risk populations, massage isn’t a luxury or an indulgence: it’s one of the most effective and pleasant ways to avoid injury and keep yourself healthy. If you are prone to jumper’s knee, you should consider massage tools to be part of your standard equipment. Go ahead and treat yourself: you may find it saves you money in the long run.
Once you are sure you have the best available shoes and equipment, you should adjust your workout. Adding patellar tendonitis stretches will help you recover, and once you have healed, they will help protect you against future injury. Adding these exercises doesn’t have to make your workout longer, either. Most exercise routines already have similar exercises, so you may only need to tweak your regular routine.
Many of my patients ask how to get strong knees. Strength training exercises are the best way to balance your body and protect your knees from a wide variety of problems. Below is a list of patellar tendonitis exercises designed for people who experience mild to moderate symptoms. If your symptoms don’t improve or get worse, consult with a medical professional to protect yourself from further injury.
These stretches aren’t just a good patellar tendonitis treatment. They’re a great warmup for most sport and fitness routines and will help you improve your overall performance.
If you are at high risk for patellar tendonitis, this one exercise may be especially helpful for you:
Good fitness is an important component of a happy and healthy life. With the right equipment and a few adjustments to your fitness routine, you can ease your patellar tendonitis symptoms. Once you are fully healed, a strong focus on knee and ankle health may help you avoid a recurrence of symptoms.
What changes can you make today to improve your next workout?