Do You Have a Case of Jumper’s Knee? Try These Helpful Tips and Exercises

Location of jumper's knee pain

Does your knee hurt after a run or a bodyweight training session? There’s a good chance that you suffer from jumper’s knee (also called patellar tendinopathy or tendinitis).

What is jumper’s knee?

Jumper’s knee is a chronic reaction to overuse or an injury to the patellar tendon, which joins the bottom of the kneecap or patella to the shin bone:

A young lady having a Jumper's Knee

If you suffer from patellar tendinopathy, you feel pain in the front of your knee on what is called the lower pole of the patella.

The first symptom is often warm-up pain (i.e. pain upon starting an activity, which then fades), usually after standing up from a sitting position or climbing stairs. It then develops into ongoing pain, swelling of the patella, tenderness, and restricted range of motion.

Activities that trigger these symptoms:

  • stop-and-go sports like running, soccer, or tennis
  • over-training
  • shoes with poor cushioning on a hard running surface
  • jumping improperly, e.g. during bodyweight training  
  • not enough stretching can lead to tight quadricep muscles, which are responsible for extending the knee

Good to know

There is a difference between jumper’s knee and runner’s knee: the latter involves pain on the outside of your knee and not on the front of your knee at the bottom of your knee cap (like jumper’s knee).

First aid for pain

If you feel pain in your knee, you should treat it. Try to rest and use cold compresses. You should also temporarily avoid jumping and explosive leg movements (e.g. running or lower body plyometric exercises). Gradually restart your workouts again, reduce the intensity, and focus on cycling or swimming. Make sure you avoid straining the injured knee.

Tip

It’s important to warm up before and cool down after working out to prevent jumper’s knee. Slowly increasing the intensity of your workouts, planning recovery phases, and wearing the right shoes also helps.

3 great exercises to treat knee pain

If you suffer from jumper’s knee, the following exercises can provide relief:

Foam Rolling:

  1. Relieve tension in the front side of the thigh

Get down on all fours. Stretch out the leg, in which you’re experiencing pain. Place the front side of the thigh on the foam roll. Then simply roll the length of the entire thigh. Make sure to keep the rolling very slow. You can repeat this exercise as often as you are able.

  1. Foam Rolling directly on the knee cap

Get down on all fours. Bring one leg forward (whichever is in pain) and place the lower edge of the knee cap directly on the foam roll, and roll back it back and forth very slowly. Note: this exercise can be painful. Make sure to never exceed your pain threshold. Only practice this exercise as often as you feel comfortable.   

Stretching:

Stretching the Quads

Lie on your side, with the leg you want to stretch on top. Slightly bend the bottom leg to stabilize the pelvis. Grab the foot of your top leg and gently pull it toward your butt. Make sure you can actually feel a stretching sensation in your quads. It’s also important not to over arch your back. Hold this stretched position for 60 to 90 seconds.

Be aware: If there is no improvement after treating it yourself, you should consult your doctor. Manipulative therapy (fascia), ultrasound, anti-inflammatory medication, shockwave therapy, or infiltration treatment can provide further relief. Plus, other causes of the problems may be identified.

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Dr. Matthias Kirchmayr Dr. Matthias Kirchmayr is a general practitioner who specializes in the treatment of the musculoskeletal system. He mainly works according to the fascia distortion model. View all posts by Dr. Matthias Kirchmayr »

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