The Top 5 Patellar Tendonitis Exercises

The Top 5 Patellar Tendonitis ExercisesAre struggling to get rid of your pain?

Chances are you’re doing the wrong exercises or you’re making small technique mistakes that are hurting your knees.

On this page, I share the 5 patellar tendonitis exercises that thousands of my readers have already benefited from and I will show you how to do them correctly.

Using these drills you can finally heal your knees, so let’s get started with the very best exercise.

The Best Exercise for Instant Pain Relief

The best way to reduce pain from an overused patellar tendon is to release as much tension as possible from your leg muscles. Stretching may be the first thing on your mind in that regard, but for maximum effect, you need to combine stretching with self-massage of your leg muscles.

Self-massage reduces tension in your legs by releasing soft-tissue restrictions in your muscles and it can be very uncomfortable. These restrictions happen when tissues that should glide freely on top of each other are stuck together. Sometimes this happens after an injury, but often it’s a consequence of too much sitting and general lack of movement.

For many of my readers, self-massage of the quadriceps muscles led to an instant reduction in pain. It’s like when your stomach hurts after eating too much and the first thing you do is undo your belt buckle: instant relief!

Self-Massage for Patellar Tendonitis: Here’s how you do it

To do self-massage, you will need a foam roller or another round object you can roll on (e.g., a PVC pipe or a tennis ball). Place the roller underneath your legs and begin by rolling your calves, your hamstrings, your buttocks (the gluteal muscles), and the sides of your hip.

Foam Rolling for Patellar Tendonitis

Finally, move on to your quadriceps muscles and roll their full length. First, with your legs straight and then with your legs bent.

Roll each muscle for a minute or two and relax as much as possible. Don’t hold your breath because holding your breath causes tension as it signals your body that you’re in some sort of danger. Instead, breathe slowly and deeply through your nose.

If you don’t have a foam roller…

video

If you don’t have a foam roller, you can improvise an even more effective massage tool for your quadriceps muscles from household items. I show you how to do this in my free email course on patellar tendonitis

 

5 Great Stretches for Patellar Tendonitis

In patellar tendonitis, three muscle groups commonly tend to be tight: the calves, the hamstrings, and the quadriceps muscles. These muscle cross the knee, so any excess tightness in these muscles places more tension on the knee.

knee anatomy quads itb hamstrings gluteals

If you’re running and jumping with tight leg muscles, your legs are working against additional resistance and pain eventually develops. It’s like driving with your handbrake on: instead of breaking records, you’ll break your body.

 

 

Here’s how you fix it

Before you do any stretches, you need to release all soft-tissue restrictions in the muscles you want to stretch. A muscle with knots and trigger points doesn’t like being stretched and often reacts by becoming even tighter, which we definitely don’t want.

Stretching a muscle with soft-tissue restrictions is like trying to stretch a rubber band that has a knot in it: for maximum extensibility, you first have to undo the knot. We already took care of that with the earlier exercises, so now let’s move on to the stretches for patellar tendonitis.

Stretch #1: The Calf Stretch

Years ago, I noticed that I had much less discomfort in my patellar tendon if I stretched my calves before basketball games. Today, I recommend calf stretches to everyone I work with because of how common tight calves are.

The most convenient way to stretch your calves is by using a slanted board. Here’s a video demonstration of this stretch (fast forward to 3:27):

You can achieve a similar effect by placing the balls of your feet on a step and letting your heels drop down like so:

Calf stretch for patellar tendonitis

You need to wear shoes with a solid but flexible sole for this stretch.

Another way to do this stretch is by placing the balls of your feet on the curb of the street and letting your heels sink down. You can do this particular variation almost anywhere and I used to do it before basketball games. I cover this stretch in detail in my free email course on patellar tendonitis.

Stretch #2: The Quad Stretch

To stretch your quads, you will need a padded surface. I’m using a folded blanket, but you can also use a thick pillow or good kneepads. I don’t recommend doing this on a hard surface, as it’s very painful and may injure your knee.

Kneel down on the padded surface in a lunge position. Now, reach back, grab the ankle of the rear leg, and pull it to your hip. If you notice discomfort in your knee, try moving your knee a bit. I usually lean forward after I grabbed my ankle and then sit up again. Here’s what it looks like:

Quadriceps stretch

Another variation of this stretch is the couch stretch. The couch stretch also stretches your quads and you will need a couch to do it. Dr. Kelly Starrett of San Francisco Crossfit popularized this stretch.

Here’s what the couch stretch looks like:

Couch Stretch for tight quads

Place your knee all the way into the back corner of the couch and then sit up straight. Don’t round your lower back. Keep your abdominal muscles braced as if you’re bracing for a punch and keep the gluteal muscles of the leg you’re stretching tight.

Stretch #3: The Hamstring Stretch

Tight hamstrings are very common today, but you have to be careful with stretching them. Make sure you’ve trained your gluteal muscles for at least a week or two before you stretch your hamstrings.

Weak gluteal muscles will cause your hamstrings to become overworked, which leads to tightness. Hence, you need to strengthen your gluteals before you can expect to get rid of tightness in your hamstrings. Once you’ve taken care of that, here’s how you can stretch them:

Hamstring stretch

Lie on your back and use a belt or something similar to pull one foot closer to your body. Push against the belt with your foot for 10 seconds while you pull on the belt with your hands. After 10 seconds, release the tension, breathe out with an audible sigh, and pull your foot a little closer.

Do this stretch with your legs straight and with your legs bent.

 

Patellar Tendonitis Exercises for Your Hips

To understand why training your hip muscles is important for healing your patellar tendonitis remember this analogy: if you lift with good back alignment, it’s much easier on your spine than if you were to lift with a rounded back.

For good leg alignment, your feet need to point forward and your knees should track over your toes when you move. Don’t let your knees cave in towards the midline of your body and don’t let your knees come forward when you jump or squat.

The following gluteal exercises will help you maintain good leg alignment and thereby help take stress off your patellar tendon. Do 3 sets of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise:

Gluteal Exercise #1: Hip Abductions

Lie on your side with your body in a straight line. Now, raise the upper leg up by leading with the heel. Keep your hips perpendicular to the ground and never move your hip. You should feel the exertion on the outside of your hip and not your thigh.

Hip Abductions

Gluteal Exercise #2: Clamshells

Lie on your side with your legs slightly bent and in front of you. Rotate the upper leg out, merely using your hip muscles. Don’t push off with your feet and don’t move your hip.

Clamshell Exercise

Gluteal Exercise #3: Glute Bridges

Lie on your back and move your heels in so that your middle fingers gently touch your heels. Now, push through your heels to form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Touch your buttocks muscles and your hamstrings to make sure your gluteals are doing most of the work.

Glute Bridge Exercise

Finally, here’s exercise #5:

 

Heal Your Patellar Tendon with Eccentric Squats

Using this exercise for patellar tendonitis has been shown to provide treatment outcomes equal to tendon surgery and it is supported by decades of academic research. The exercise I’m talking about is eccentric squats on a slanted board and here’s how you do it:

 

How to Start Healing Your Knees Today

To help you get back to being active the way you love, I’ve create a free email course on patellar tendonitis and I also want to send you the two most important chapters of my book Beating Patellar Tendonitis as a gift. Click here to receive my best material on patellar tendonitis.

Lastly, if you know someone with patellar tendonitis, help them get rid of this frustrating injury by sharing the link to this page. I can’t reach everyone myself, so I appreciate your help!

– Martin Koban

Comments

  1. Sharon says

    Will these exercises work for osteoarthritis of the knees? I was going to PT and they had me using the slant board, the strap leg raise, sitting on a table & raising the front of my foot up & holding to the count of 5, then relaxing it , 8 reps, each leg.Leg press for upper thighs. This just came on gradually, I was never a jumper orr runner. I also have week ankles.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Sharon,

      For osteoarthritis, make sure you reduce omega-6 intake (vegetable oils), supplement with liquid fish oil for a month, and try a supplement called “MoveFree” (you can find it on Amazon). All these things are scientifically proven to improve cartilage production in the body. The best exercises for osteoarthritis are those that move the knee through its full range of motion with as little load as possible. Like underwater squats or lying on your stomach and bending and flexing the knee. This is just about moving the joint fluid, which contains the nutrients to rebuild cartilage, around in the joint so that the cartilage can get those nutrients out of the joint fluid.

      There is no blood circulation inside the cartilage, so it relies on getting nutrients through joint fluid, for which you need frequent movement. However, too intense exercises will do more harm than good, so as little load as possible, higher repetitions, and frequent training are the best approach.

      The fish oil mentioned above will also help with the tendonitis. I don’t know how your body will react to the eccentric squats, but the self-massage is definitely safe. You can also try the stretching drills. These will take tension off the knee, which (theoretically) should also help reduce pain from OA.

  2. Javier says

    Hello Martin,

    I just started your program to fix knee tendonitis this week. At the end of it, I usually get more knee pain and some inflammation. Is this normal during the first weeks?

    Looking forward to hearing from you soon,

    Javier.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Javier,

      If pain stays elevated for more than 24 hours, the exercises were too tough. Scale down the intensity to a level at which pain does not stay elevated for more than a day.

      If regular eccentric squats are too tough, do wall sits instead (sit against a wall with a 90-degree angle between your hamstrings and calves).

      • Javier says

        Thanks for your reply, Martin!

        I’ve been following your program for the last six weeks and am still in the first phase; I’ll start the second phase next week. The stretch exercises have become easier throughout these weeks, and while doing the eccentric squats (3 sets of 12), I feel that my knees are stronger at the end of the program. Pain usually goes away after a couple of hours but some days, my knees hurt as bad as before. Is this a bad sign?

        Thanks again,
        Javier.

        • Martin Koban says

          Hey Javier,

          As long as pain goes down overall, I wouldn’t worry about this too much. Maybe you should give yourself an extra rest day just to be safe.

  3. Tim says

    Hi Martin,

    Your book has been awesome so far. I’m a young guy in his early 20’s who stopped weightlifting for a couple of years and ended up injuring both patellar tendons from playing basketball for 3 weeks after I graduated (for ~60 minute sessions 5 days a week) with minimal warm up and zero weight training. I played through the pain after about 1 week of soreness, completely ignorant to the fact I was exasperating my problem. As a result, 3 months later, my knees were hurting (and still do) almost all of the time. I bought your book, upgraded my plain foam roller to a Rumble Roller, purchased a slanted board and flexi-straps for stretching, and have been doing the stretches every day for about 10 days.

    While I understand recovery is slow, I sorely miss weight training for my legs. Deadlifts, squats, etc.

    I’ve experimented with deadlifts and my knees seemed fine at the time, but I paid for it the following 2/3 days with awful patellar soreness in both knees. I know I can strengthen my hamstrings with RDL’s and calves without putting load on my knee tendons, but I can’t seem to figure out a good exercise to strengthen my quads and they feel incredibly weak.

    My question—in the gym, is there any leg/quad exercises you can recommend that won’t load up my patellar tendon or exasperate the problem alltogether? Or are the eccentric squats 4 times/week sufficient for the first couple of months?

    I looked up weightlifting knee bands which seem to be popular. Would you recommend those at all while weightlifting only?

    Thanks Martin.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Tim,

      You can progress your eccentric training into heavy slow resistance training. Use squats or the leg press and move the weight slowly: 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. Begin with low weights and slowly increase resistance over weeks. That will help you heal the patellar tendon and build strength in the quads.

      I’m not sure what exactly you’re referring to with knee bands. If you’re talking about heavy compression wraps, these should only be used by experienced lifters. If you mean simple knee sleeves that merely keep the joint warm without interfering with movement, they’re great for increasing circulation. Jumper’s knee straps I’m not a fan of (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbRYMo0agoE).

  4. Kyle Hampton says

    Hello martin, I’ve been struggling with jumpers knee for 1 year now and haven’t been able to get rid of it through foam rolling,stretching and eccentric squats. what do i need to do please help me this is ruining my life

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Kyle,

      Have you been using NSAIDs? Check out this article -> http://www.fix-knee-pain.com/patellar-tendonitis-treatment/

      Also, have you tried the supplements I mention in the book? Liquid fish oil, vitamin c, and hydrolyzed collagen.

      I’d need to see your exact training regimen to give more specific suggestions, as a lot of things could have gone wrong. My recommendation is to check out the book Beating Patellar Tendonitis if you haven’t already. You’ll find my email address in the first couple of pages … email me if you still have questions.

      – Martin

      • Kyle says

        Hi Martin thank you for replying, I will buy the book today and go over it and email you with more info about my work out and therapy so far if that is ok, thank you soo much once again

  5. Kyle Hampton says

    I apologize i also forgot to mention I’m 25 very athletic, i also have tried the prp shot and some other procedure where they needled away scar tissue both didn’t work and i di=on

  6. Liam says

    Hi Martin I like your approach to knee pain. Have a look at reciprocal inhibition laws for stretching tissue around a dysfunctional or painful joint. It will help you with your work. Generally speaking trying to stretch a loaded muscle as in your calf stretch will activate the myotatic stretch reflex and initiate a tug of war that is counter productive. Most of the chronic knee pain I work on comes from pelvic imbalance or functional leg length discrepancy which leads to overloading the knee joint. Also foot related dysfunction stemming from inversion, bunions or plantar fasciitis which I’m sure you have covered in your course. Thanks for the exercises.

  7. Rick says

    Hi Martin,

    I’ve had PT for a over a year. My PT came from squats where my hamstrings, glutes, quads and calfs were all too tight. I had PRP last week and will be taking the next 4-6 weeks off.

    Built myself a slant board but don’t know if it’s too early to start eccentric squats. Do you recommends starting them now?

    Also which exercises and stretches do you suggest? I think my hamstrings and glutes are tighter and weaker than my quads but I don’t know what I should be strengthening and what I should be stretching.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Rick,

      Combine self-massage and strengthening exercises for muscles you think are weak (no stretching at first). This is particularly important for the gluteals. So start with gluteal strengthening with the exercises above.

      Rest your knees for a week or two before starting with eccentric training. Follow the guidelines provided in my article on patellar tendonitis: http://www.fix-knee-pain.com/patellar-tendonitis-jumpers-knee/ or get my book Beating Patellar Tendonitis on Amazon.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Jordan,

      Swimming is generally safe.

      The exception is swimming breast-stroke if you had meniscus or MCL surgery.

      Also, try upper body dumbbell complexes for cardio.

  8. Tony says

    Hi Martin

    I bought your book last month on patella tendinitis. I have been doing the foam rolling, stretching and exercises and have seen an improvement in knee pain already. I had pain walking downstairs which has significantly reduced. The issue I have is with the ankle dorsiflexion exercise. This was giving me sharp pains in my knee when I did the exercise. I stopped doing it and did the soleus exercise instead. Have you come across this issue before? I am due to see an orthopaedic surgeon on Wednesday and wanted your feedback before I do.

    Many thanks

    Tony

  9. Krista says

    Hi Martin! I bought your book last fall. I started with PT in my right knee last March, and sadly now have a very degenerated, thickened tendon. Over the months I developed patella femoral syndrome in the left, taking all the extra weight. Despite that, I was doing progressively better over the summer, with just a flare up here and there, but I was able to get to doing the eccentric slant board single leg squats every day 10-15 reps, in addition to walking and climbing stairs up and down without pain! I was getting finally hopeful that I was over the hump and WHAM. About 2 weeks ago, pain in my right came back as if all this progress never occurred, and the left is flared again too. I cannot identify anything I did to overload my knees, other than maybe all I had been doing (dancing, starting to try jumping again) was building up to be too much. My question is, did you ever have dramatic progress followed by a dramatic backslide? As so many others have reported, this has consumed too much of my life. Thank you!

  10. ashwani says

    Hello sir. I Ashwani from India sir 2 years ago I injured during playing basketball. In mri patella tendon Is injured long time I suffered from this problem and my knee is not properly flexible my suggest exercises and treament to solve this injury

    • ashwani says

      Hello sir. I Ashwani from India sir 2 years ago I injured during playing basketball. In mri patella tendon Is injured long time I suffered from this problem and my knee is not properly flexible my suggest exercises and treament to solve this injury

  11. ryankenny says

    martin i have a jumpers knee also, want to ask if doing cycling on normal intensity, lunges and leg press ruin my recovery?? how much weight is advisable when doing leg press and squat

    • Martin Koban says

      Hey Ryan,

      There are no set boundaries for this. In general, execute all lifts slowly with a 3 – 5 second eccentric and a 3 – 5 second concentric, without any bouncing or momentum and it should be fine. Start with a very low weight and leave at least 3 days of rest.

      Cycling for a low mileage should be fine as well (no hills/sprints/high cadence/monospeeds).

  12. Chris says

    Hi Martin. I’m a 13 yrold boy and I have had pt for about a year.I do parkour, and I jumped down some stairs And rolled my ankle and about a ek after my knees and ankles started to hurt. I stopped parkour a few months after for a while and tried to find out what was wrong with me. I use a plain foam roller for 2 weeks, stretch, and try to strengthen my knees by doing eccentric squats on acurb or stair once in a while. I really need help and I can’t buy your book. I don’t think anyone takes my condition seriously though. I am getting kind of depressed because I can’t enjoy my life please help me :(

  13. Cathy says

    Have any competitive runners you know of been able to run through patellar tendinitis? If so, how has it affected their running?

    • Martin Koban says

      Some were able to do it, but there’s a risk of it getting much worse. It definitely won’t heal this way and you’re merely postponing the inevitable treatment.

  14. Jacob says

    Hi Martin,

    I’m 22 and I’ve had patellar tendonitis for 3 years, there was a point about 7 months ago when I was in hospital in a wheelchair because the pain of standing even for a second was too great, and there was a constant ache 24/7. Since then I’ve been doing hydrotherapy 3x per week (which has been helping), taking 6x panadol osteo, 2x glucosamine and 1x meloxicam everyday. Mixing this with massage therapy and your stretching and strengthening exercises has definitely made life easier, but I know that I’m a long way from being 100%. I’m just wondering if you know of many/any people whose tendonitis had got to be so painful and did they ever see a full recovery? And should they be expecting trouble later in life? Thank you

  15. Cathy says

    The worse knee pain I have from patellar tendinitis is after sitting for about 20-30 mins. Once I stand up, the pain disappears. Any ideas on why this happens?

  16. Aaron says

    I have had jumpers knee since October of 2014. Since then it has gotten much better, and I have a foam roller and slanted board, both of which have helped significantly in my recovery. I am curious as to how I can make that final hump, I can still feel my jumpers knee in a weird sort of way. Not necessarily extreme pain anymore, but just an aching or it just feels different than the other knee and I’m not quite sure if I fully trust it yet to be able to handle intense workouts again. I want to be back to the way I was before, not even thinking about my knee being an issue and playing sports with enjoyment. My question to you is will I ever break free from jumpers knee once and for all? Or any tips to finally overcome that last bump in the road to getting over jumpers knee and never looking back. PS: I’m 21 and an avid basketball player and long distance runner as well.

  17. EP says

    It should be noted that the eccentric exercises can aggravate irritable tendons. Research from Jill Cook (tendon clinician) and her colleagues recommend starting with isometric, then isotonic exercises (hsr, heavy slow resistance).

    Also you should not stretch an injured tendon. Some good information otherwise.

    • Martin Koban says

      Hi EP,

      Thank you very much for pointing this out. I also read your Amazon review and I appreciate your input very much.

      In a few weeks, I will take a seminar with Dr. Peter Malliaras and hopefully gain a lot of new insight, but it takes quite a while to update the book, unfortunately. In the meantime, my goal is to provide updated information through the emails and YouTube videos, which are so much faster to produce than updating the book (the publishing cycle is looooong).

      For anyone else interested in what E mentioned, I recommend reading up here -> jsams.org/article/S1440-2440%2815%2900231-5/fulltext

      – Martin

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