The 5 Best Exercises for Patellar Tendonitis

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The 5 Best Exercises for Patellar Tendonitis

Are 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.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. Consult your doctor or another professional healthcare provider if you have any specific questions about any medical matter. Seek immediate medical attention if you think you may be suffering from any medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website. Martin Koban is not a medical professional!
Before continuing, read the full disclaimer here.

The 5 Best Patellar Tendonitis Exercises

Early patellar tendonitis can be treated very well with resting. However, once the injury has progressed to the more chronic stage, you could even have pain when sitting.

To get rid of patellar tendon pain through exercise you need to take the following steps:

  1. Get rid of muscle tension that is contributing to tendon overload
  2. Work on other biomechanical issues that may cause tendon overload
  3. Strengthen the tendon safely

Here are the most effective exercises to do that.

Reducing Tendon Pain Without Stretching

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

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.

Here’s an overview of the muscles you need to massage:

Self-massage exercises for patellar tendonitis

If you don’t have a foam-roller you can roll your quad muscles with a broom stick, a curtain pole, or something similar. Just roll the muscle as if you were rolling out dough.

Stretching Exercises 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.

anatomy of the muscles around the knee

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.

To learn more about the stretches you can watch the video below or read the full article about patellar tendonitis stretches.

Patellar Tendonitis Exercises for the 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.

Jumper's Knee Exercise: 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.

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.

Tendon Strengthening Exercises

There are two types of tendon strengthening exercises you can choose from: isometric exercises and isotonic exercises.

Isometric exercises are a great choice for tendons that are still easily irritated. Isometrics can reduce pain and muscular inhibition.

You can do isometric patellar tendonitis exercises by holding weight in place instead of moving it. A wall sit is a great example:

The wall sit exercise for patellar tendonitis
You can change the difficulty of the wall sit by placing your hip higher or lower on the wall

A lesser known isometric exercise for patellar tendonitis is the Spanish Squat:

The Spanish Squat for tendonitis in the knee
The Spanish Squat is a fantastic isometric bodyweight exercise for easily irritable tendonitis.

Isotonic exercises are a good choice once pain has stabilized at a lower level.

You can do slow squats, slow leg presses, slow leg extensions, as well as any other quad-focused exercise as long as it’s possible to do it slowly.

The different tendon strengthening exercises for patellar tendonitis
Strengthening exercises for patellar tendonitis: Spanish Squat, Leg Extension, and Leg Press.

Take 3 – 5 seconds for the lowering part of the movement and 3 – 5 seconds for pushing up again. Avoid bouncing and momentum.

The Best Way to Start

It’s easy to waste months going in circles because there’s so much conflicting advice on patellar tendonitis.

If you feel like you’re not making enough progress, let me help you. Join my free course about patellar tendonitis and we can get started right away:

5 Tendonitis Mistakes That Add Years to Your Recovery Time

I have read 1,731 studies about knee pain and discovered 5 mistakes that can make tendonitis last years. To learn more, join my free course Tendonitis Insights. I'd love to share this with you.
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See you in the course.

About the author

Martin Koban
Martin Koban

About Martin Koban

I’m Martin Koban and I help people with knee pain get back to living a normal life. I’ve worked with professional athletes, recreational athletes, and regular people from all around the world.

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