Overcoming Patellar Tendonitis of the Knee

Patellar tendonitis or tendinopathy is pain in the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. The patellar tendon works with the muscles at the front of your thigh to extend your knee so that you can squat, walk, and go up and down steps.

Patellar tendonitis usually develops over time. It can be due to faulty movement mechanics or repetitive activity.  It is a common condition that affects active people who enjoy weight lifting, hiking, group exercise, jogging, biking, tennis, or pickleball.  Movements that can be painful include running, walking, steps, squats, and lunges. In addition, there may be increased symptoms first thing in the morning or after a prolonged bout of sitting.

When it comes to overcoming patellar tendonitis, it usually makes sense to take a break from the specific activity that is aggravating the knee. This allows pain and irritation to subside.  If pain persists, hands-on therapy to the thigh, calf, and knee-cap can be effective to alleviate acute patellar tendon pain.  As the pain improves, you now have an opportunity to address the root causes of patellar tendonitis.

The best way to know what is contributing to patellar tendonitis is to have a movement assessment performed. Common factors that contribute to patellar tendonitis include insufficient strength of the trunk, thighs, hips, lower leg, and foot.  In addition, sudden increases in training volume may lead to patellar tendonitis.  Movement errors like a “knock-knee” position during squats and lunges or inadequate tensioning of the leg muscles may also contribute to patellar tendonitis.

If you have weakness, learning how to engage muscles that are not firing well is important.  Some beginner exercises include quad sets, gluteal bridges, and hip hurdles.

Once muscles engage better, the next step is to restore movement.  The basic functions of the knee are to bend and extend fully.  Being able to fold at the knees with an assisted pole squat, and extend fully with a banded terminal knee extension will foster normal knee mechanics.

The next step is developing strength.  This includes learning how to create tension at the trunk, hips, thighs, lower leg, and foot while performing compound movements like the squat, lunge, step, and deadlift.

Most of the exercises mentioned above can be found in our video library.

When addressed with a physical therapy program that uses a whole-body approach, overcoming patellar tendonitis is possible. However, ignoring pain and engaging in repetitive activity can create a more serious knee condition.  If you have concerns about patellar tendonitis, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to be a resource for you. 

We offer a free guide on relieving knee pain that can give you further insight into knee problems and help kickstart your recovery.

If you want help, you can request a knee consultation with one of our specialists.  This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your knee pain, and foster confidence that we can help you.  If you’re certain that we’re a good fit to work together, you can decide on the next step.

If you’re in pain but unsure about what you should do, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.

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