4 ways to manage patellar tendinopathy

patellar tendinopathy
4 ways to manage patellar tendinopathyHarvey Symons

Though categorically not bad for your knees, running can be the cause of certain knee pain or injuries. One of the more common ones is patellar tendinopathy (also called 'jumper's knee'), which presents as pain just below the kneecap and can also cause stiffness and weakness around the knee.

Why does patellar tendinopathy occur?

The patellar tendon joins your knee cap to your shinbone, and patellar tendinopathy occurs when the tendon is overused/overloaded, causing it to gradually wear down. The repeated stress causes the tendon to become weaker and so is unable to cope with the loading. This leads to microscopic damage within the tendon fibres and, as the tendon tries to heal itself, becomes painful and thickened.

What are the symptoms of patellar tendinopathy?

The main symptom is pain just below the knee cap, and this can be felt both during and after running. Your knee may feel stiff – particularly in the morning or when going downstairs – and may also be tender to touch.

You may find you can exercise through the pain, with the pain settling once you've warmed up. Symptoms usually come on gradually, becoming more and more noticeable each time you run.

How should I treat it?

The first thing you should do is take a rest from running – and avoid any other activities that bring on the pain, such as squats. You may be able to continue doing low-impact cross-training activities that don't bring on the pain, such as swimming and cycling. However, you should consult a physiotherapist or sports doctor if you are experiencing symptoms for expert advice. They may recommend icing the knee initially to bring the inflammation down and and taking over-the-counter painkillers for short-term pain relief.

Your physio will plan strengthening and stretching exercises to rehabilitate the tendon and help get you back to running – and will provide guidance on how to do so safely.

As a rule of thumb, you are OK to run if your pain is less than 3/10 and settles within a 24-hour period.

If initial treatments do not improve your symptoms, your physiotherapist or doctor will discuss other options with you.

How can I prevent patellar tendinopathy?

The following exercises, recommended by physiotherapist Luke Murray (physio-network.com), will help to strengthen the tendon and improve its stress tolerance, to reduce the risk of the injury re-occurring.

Isometric loading

isometric loading exercsie for patellar tendinopathy
Harvey Symons

An example of this is the well-known wall sit exercise. Do this daily, and try and hold for 2 mins.

Isotonic loading

exercise for patellar tendinopathy
Harvey Symons

Try some squats and lunges. Do bodyweight versions to begin with and then add weight. Aim for 2 sets of 10-15 reps.

Heavy and moderate resistance training

exercise for patellar tendinopathy
Harvey Symons

Leg press and leg extension machines are advised. Start with a moderate resistance and increase as you get stronger. Aim for 2 x sets of 10-15 reps.

Slow resistance training

exercise for patellar tendinopathy
Harvey Symons

With a chair behind you at knee height, squat on one leg until your bum kisses the chair. Return to the start. Do 2 sets of 10 reps on each leg.

You Might Also Like