Do you experience knee pain when you return to the basketball court after a layoff of a few months? If your knee always aches—even if you cannot remember incurring a specific injury—you may be suffering from jumper’s knee (formally known as patellar tendinopathy). This progressive deterioration is especially common among adult male basketball and volleyball players.
In the knee, the quadriceps tendon attaches the heavy quadriceps muscle on the front of the thigh to the top of the kneecap (patella), and the patellar tendon attaches the bottom of the kneecap to the shin bone (tibia ). Repetitive stress overload on these tendons during jumping and especially on landing causes repeated microtears and collagen degradation in the tendon, resulting in gradual, aching knee pain.
Athletes with low strength, and poor hamstring and quadriceps flexibility are most likely to develop jumper’s knee. Overtraining, excessive playing on hard surfaces, and individual jumping and landing technique can worsen the problem.
For a definitive diagnosis, see a physician who specializes in sports medicine. If the doctor determines that you suffer from jumper’s knee, we can develop an exercise program to progressively improve the flexibility and strength of your hamstrings and quadriceps.
Eccentric exercise (when the muscle lengthens in response to external resistance) can especially benefit individuals with jumper’s knee by speeding up the rehabilitation of weak or injured tendons . Our Physical Therapists can show you how to perform specific eccentric exercises correctly using free weights, body weight exercise and nonhydraulic exercise machines so you can return pain-free to the basketball court. Importantly, this strengthening and stretching process takes time (10 to 12 weeks) to reach ultimate improvement. No quick fix is available! August 2010