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Jumper’s Knee Rehab: A Common Mistake You Need to Sidestep

Are you familiar with Jumper’s knee and are frustrated with the persistence of the associated knee pain? 

In this blog, we’ll unravel the common rehab mistake associated with Jumper’s Knee, shedding light on alternative approaches to alleviate pain and promote long-term recovery.

Understanding Jumper's Knee

Jumper’s knee is a condition often misunderstood. Contrary to common belief, it is not primarily an inflammatory issue, like patellar tendinitis, but rather a degeneration and progressive overuse problem. Therefore, the medical terminology for Jumper’s Knee is patellar tendinosis, or thickening of the tendon. The condition arises from prolonged stress on the tendon, typically after weeks of intense physical activity. Before we explore the rehab mistake, it’s crucial to understand the nature of this knee pathology.

The Mistake: Excessive Resting and Icing

Many individuals grappling with Jumper’s Knee resort to what seems like logical solutions: Rsting and Ice. However, this common mistake will likely only provide short term relief of symptoms, but will likely make the condition worse in the middle to long term. Resting alone will result in weaker muscles and tendon. Followed by returning to regular activities without proper rehabilitation may lead to recurrent flare-ups. As a result, people fall into a vicious a cycle of temporarily short term relief followed by progressive discomfort and diminished function.

Rethinking The Role of Ice

While icing is commonly employed to alleviate pain, it is not the solution for Jumper’s Knee. Despite its temporary pain-reducing effects, excessive reliance on ice can interfere with the natural inflammatory process needed for that patellar tendon to break down, remodel, strengthen and heal itself. Although there is a time and place for icing, a more balanced approach to pain management is encouraged.

The Solution: Strengthening & Loading The Tendon

The key to Jumper’s Knee rehab lies in appropriate and progressive loading and strengthening of the quadriceps muscle and quadriceps & patellar tendon. Although, there is plenty of other components to rehab that need to be addressed, such as stretching, strengthening, and movement re-training, we can’t emphasize the importance of loading the tendon enough. 

Like we mentioned previously, the pathology is a chronic degradation and thickening of the tendon, which changes the strength and capacity of the muscle and tendon. This gradual onset of pain and tissue change results in improper movement mechanics and muscle/tendon loading. When you don’t move the right way, your body compensates of off loading the irritated area and start loading other areas more. As a result, you become weaker and tighter in the quadriceps muscle and patellar tendon. This proactive approach addresses the root cause of Jumper’s Knee, providing a more sustainable path to recovery, rather than just address the symptoms.

Rehab Strategies for Jumper's Knee to Break the Cycle:

To break free from the cycle of resting and exacerbating the condition, you are advised to adopt a multifaceted rehab strategy. This involves moderation of your current activity levels, progresive strengthening exercises, mobility drills, movement re-training, and an understanding of tissue tolerance/capacity. 

By incorporating targeted rehab exercises into a routine and understanding the importance of gradual loading, you can disrupt this cycle! Resuming activities like basketball is possible, but it requires a commitment to strengthening the weakened tendon to minimize the risk of recurring pain. If you need this guidance, we created an online Jumper’s Knee P/Rehab Program for you to break this cycle and return to doing the things you love!

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Ark et al. Do isometric and isotonic exercise programs reduce pain in athletes with patellar tendinopathy in-season? A randomised clinical trial. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2016
Carlson et al. Isometric exercise training for blood pressure management: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. 2014
Jil Cook “Rehabilitation will increase the capacity of your..insert musculoskeletal tissue here..Defining tissue capacity: core concept for the clinician.
Rio et al. Isometric exercise induces analgesia and reduces inhibition in patellar tendinopathy. J Sports Med. 2015
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