5 Patellar Tendonitis Exercises and Stretches for Knee Pain

If YOU’RE FEELING pain just under your kneecap, you might be dealing with a bout of patellar tendonitis.

It’s a specific place to feel pain, and if you’ve ever experienced it, you know all too well how debilitating this issue can be when you want to stay active. Many of our day-to-day movements depend on the functionality of our knees, such as standing from a seated position, walking, and climbing stairs.

There are things you can do to find relief, though. Physical therapist Daniel Giordano, DPT, PT, C.S.C.S. of Bespoke Treatments in New York City, along with trainer Tyriek Taylor, shows a few stretches and exercises you can do to alleviate some of that pain.

What Is Patellar Tendonitis?

Patellar tendonitis is inflammation of the patellar tendon. This tendon is a large piece of thick connective tissue that holds our kneecap in place by attaching to your shin bone, allowing for proper stabilization of the knee. Inflammation causes swelling in through the tendon, making movement stiff and painful.

What Causes Patellar Tendonitis?

Patellar tendonitis is often an overuse injury. Excessive use of knee flexion, or bending, at the knee can tire out the patellar tendon. Repetitive jumping is a common cause—patellar tendonitis is even nicknamed “jumper’s knee”. Jump ropers, be warned.

Who Should Do These Stretches?

Runners, jumpers, and anyone who is feeling pain around your kneecap can benefit from these stretches. By following along with this routine, you will increase the flexibility in the muscles surrounding the patellar tendon, relieving some of the tension and tightness in the area. These moves may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but they should eventually loosen up.

However, if your pain is exceeds a four out of 10 rating or if you’re experiencing severe swelling, Giordano recommends going to see a physical therapist or orthopedic doctor before continuing any of these exercises. You likely need more individualized care.

The 5 Best Exercises for Patellar Tendonitis

Calf Muscle Foam Rolling

1 to 2 sets of 30 to 60 seconds

The foam roller is a beloved recovery tool for good reason. Giordano says that massaging out the muscles surrounding the patellar tendon will create some much needed blood flow, and release tension out of the tendon.

How to Do It:

  • Place the foam roller under the calf.
  • Roll up and down the muscle, as well as side to side.
  • If it doesn’t feel like enough, use your hands to lift your weight off the floor and press harder into the foam roller.

Quadriceps Muscle Foam Rolling

1 to 2 sets of 30 to 60 seconds

Similar to the calf muscle, the quadricep muscle could be carrying some tension that is causing extra pressure on the patellar tendon. Roll it out to have the same effect.

How to Do It:

  • Lie on the foam roller so that it lands just above the knee.
  • Roll up and down the muscle, as well as side to side.
  • If you find a specific spot that is very tight, apply extra pressure to it by pulling your heel up towards the sky and bending at the knee. This may feel intense, so only do a few reps of it.

Half-Kneeling Quad Stretch

1 to 2 sets of 10 reps

Now that you’ve got some blood flow to the quad, it’s time to stretch out a bit. Have a bench or stable chair handy for this one.

How to Do It:

  • Start in a half-kneeling position, with the foot propped up onto the bench or chair.
  • Place your hands on your hips, and lean your weight back into the propped foot.
  • Hold for about 5 seconds before releasing out of the stretch. That’s one rep.
  • Do 1 to 2 sets of 10 reps.

Toe-To-Wall Hamstring Stretch

1 to 2 sets of 10 reps

Stretching out the hamstring will take some pressure off the posterior aspect of the knee.

How to Do It:

  • Place your toe up against a wall.
  • Lean slightly forward to get a stretch through the calf.
  • Once you’re ready to incorporate a stretch in the hamstrings, shift the hips back while keeping that front leg straight.
  • Hold the stretch for about 5 seconds. That’s one rep.

Decline Board Squat

1 to 2 sets of 10 reps

You will need a platform that elevates the heel to be able to do this therapeutic exercise, like a decline board or barbell plate. Giordano says you’ll work to re-train mechanical load in the patellar tendon as it starts to heal.

How to Do It:

  • Stand on the board. Sink the hips back and keep the chest up as you squat down.
  • Go as low as is comfortable. Once you start to feel secure in this movement, you can shift the knee a little more forward. If you feel pain in that position though, Giordano says to keep the hips back and don’t bring the knees too far forward.

For more advice from physical therapists to help you move and feel better, check out all of our guides in The Fix series.

Headshot of Cori Ritchey

Cori Ritchey, NASM-CPT is an Associate Health & Fitness Editor at Men’s Health and a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. You can find more of her work in HealthCentral, Livestrong, Self, and others.

Headshot of Brett Williams, NASM

Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.

This article was originally posted here.

Comments are closed.