If you're an active person, there's a good chance you've experienced knee pain at one point or another. Quadriceps tendinitis -- which is the inflammation of the tendon at the top of your kneecap -- affects athletes who run and jump a lot. In fact, this condition is sometimes called "jumper's knee."
Stretching and strengthening exercises can relieve pain, stiffness and weakness that can occur with quadriceps tendinitis.
Tight muscles can contribute to quadriceps tendinitis by affecting the way you move. Three main muscles should be stretched if you have this condition -- the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. Hold each stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat three times. With proper technique you should feel a strong pull, but no pain.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step your left leg back approximately three feet. Bend both knees and rest your left knee on the ground. Keeping your body upright, shift your weight forward onto the front leg until you feel a stretch at the front of your left hip. From this position, bend your left knee, reach back with your left hand and grab your left foot. You should now feel a stretch along the front of your thigh, from your hip to your knee. Repeat on the opposite leg.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your left knee and step your right leg straight out in front of you, resting on your heel. Keeping your right knee straight, bend forward at the hips until you feel a strong pull along the back of your thigh. Pull your toes up toward the ceiling to intensify this stretch.
Place your palms against a wall at chest-height. Step your right leg back approximately three feet. Bend your left knee. Keeping your right knee straight, lean your body forward until you feel a strong pull along the back of your calf. Vary this stretch by bending the back knee slightly to target different calf muscles.
Quadriceps weakness can develop if tendinitis has kept you from doing your typical activities. Strengthening too early in the healing process can make your pain worse. Perform strengthening exercises once you can walk around without pain, or under the advisement of your healthcare professional.
Perform step ups with a short box initially (such as four inches), then progress up to 12 inches as your strength improves. Step up forward onto the box with your weak leg. Fully straighten your knee as you stand on top of the box. Early on, step backward off the box with your noninjured leg. After you've done this exercise a few times, step down off the front of the box, lowering yourself using the injured leg. This movement further works the quadriceps muscle. Perform lateral step ups as well, stepping onto the box sideways, leading with the injured leg. Perform 10 step ups in a row, working up to three sets.
Early on, perform squats with your back against a wall. Lean on a wall and step your feet out in front of you, approximately two feet. Bend your knees and slide down the wall until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds, then stand back up. Work up to three sets of 10 repetitions. Progress this exercise by performing squats without the wall for support. As your strength improves, squat deeper, allowing your butt to drop below your hips.
Read more: Exercises to Strengthen Weak Knees
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- International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy: Current Concepts in the Treatment of Patellar Tendinopathy
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Recurrent Unremitting Patellar Tendinitis Rehabilitation Program
- Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine: Lower Extremity Kinematics During a Drop Jump in Individuals With Patellar Tendinopathy
- Advanced Physical Therapy: A Patient's Guide to Quadriceps Tendonitis