Patellar Tendinitis, or Jumper’s knee, is an extremely painful and frustrating injury that puts a big strain on the front of the knee joint, just below the knee cap. Patellar tendinitis is very common among runners and cyclists, however it doesn’t usually occur in an instant like a hamstring strain or groin pull, but commonly starts off as a twinge or niggle, and progresses quickly to debilitating knee pain that can sideline the best of us.
The patellar tendon connects the kneecap, or patella, to the shin bone. The tendon assists the muscles in extending the leg, aiding in crucial movements such as pedalling a bike, kicking an object and jumping. This is why it's commonly referred to as jumper's knee. Though there's no jumping involved in cycling, the tendon can become irritated or inflamed if your bike's saddle is too low or if you pedal a gear that causes high resistance. Both of these activities can strain your tendon, causing pain between your kneecap and where it attaches to your shin bone, or tibia.
What causes Patellar Tendinitis?
Overuse is the major cause of patellar tendinitis. Activities that involve a lot of jumping or rapid change of direction are particularly stressful to the patellar ligament. Participants of basketball, volleyball, soccer, and other running related sports are particularly vulnerable to patellar tendinitis. Patellar tendinitis can also be caused by a sudden, unexpected injury like a fall. Landing heavily on your knees can damage the patellar ligament, which can lead to patellar tendinitis.
Bike set up
One of the most common causes of patellar tendonitis is a bike saddle that's too low. When you first experience symptoms or after a few days of rest, try raising your saddle gradually, a few millimetres at a time. Your saddle might also be too far back. If you're unsure of how your bike should be set up, see a professional bike fitter who will assess your biomechanics and set up your bike properly. Most bike shops either have a professional fitter or can direct you to one. A fit will also help you avoid future injuries and increase the comfort of your ride.
Treatment of Patellar Tendonitis
Although it is important to treat Patellar Tendonitis effectively, prevention should also be a priority.
Avoid activities that cause pain which is self-explanatory, but try to be aware of activities that cause pain or discomfort, and either avoid them or modify them.
Rest and Recovery: Rest is very important in helping the soft tissues of the body recover from strenuous activity. Be sure to allow adequate recovery time between workouts or training sessions.
Balancing Exercises are beneficial which are exercises that challenges your ability to balance, and keep your balance, will help what is called, proprioception, your body’s ability to know where its limbs are at any given time.
Stretching: To prevent patellar tendinitis, it is important that the muscles around the knee be in top condition. Be sure to work on the flexibility of all the muscle groups in the leg.
Strengthening:Strapping: Strapping, or taping can provide an added level of support and stability to weak or injured knees.
Sports massage is beneficial to improve the flexibility and range of movement in the knee once the inflammation has reduced. Once there is more range of movement then quadriceps strengthening exercises are helpful to prevent the tendinitis from re- occurring.