Jumper’s Knee: How to help your knee

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

Jumper's Knee

What Is Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee is also called patellar tendinopathy. Typically there is pain below the knee cap mainly in volleyball and basketball players, gymnasts and dancers. 

Tendinopathy, was also called tendonitis as it was thought there was inflammation in the actual tendon. Recent research has shown that there is little to no inflammation thus the name change to tendinopathy. 

Symptoms of Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee typically results in swelling and pain and a decreased vertical height that the athlete can jump. Even prolonged sitting, going up and down stairs and squatting without weights can cause pain. 

Patellar tendonpathy or Jumper's Knee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cause of Tendonpathy

There are 3 stages of tendonpathy:

  1. Reactive
  2. Tendon Disrepair
  3. Degenerative

Typically the tendon typically start in the reactive stage and then moves on to disrepair then finally degnerative. For many volleyball and basketball players it can move among the 3 stages. [1]

 

Underdiagnosed Monster

The problem with jumper’s knee or patellar tendonpathy is that it is diagnosed clinically. This means if you have knee pain you go to a clinic and someone diagnoses you based on your history and exam. 

For up to 26% of adolescent basket players with no symptoms that were imaged with ultrasound there were large areas that showed a risk of developing patellar tendonopathy later on. [2]

However the authors of the study Jill Cook and Khan leaders in tedonpathy research recommended against imaging to diagnose tendon problems. 

Risks For Patellar Tendonpathy

  1. Increased training
  2. Change of training surface or shoe. Usually less shock absorption but not always.

How to prevent Jumper’s Knee

  1. Increase your knee strength[3]
  2. Don’t jump as high all the time. Give it 80% as studies have shown that the greater vertical jump you have the more likely you will have pain from jumper’s knee.[3]
  3. Don’t gain excessive wait. Studies have shown that males with a bigger waist line have more patellar tendonpathy.[3]
  4. Stretch out your hams and quads. Studies have shown that tighter hams and quad lead to patellar tendionpathy.{4]
  5. Increase the height of your foot arch with these exercises.[5] Research has shown that flatter feet leads to more jumper’s knee. 
  6. Stretch your calfs. Research has shown that reduced ankle dorsiflexion in other words tight calf will lead to jumper’s knee. [6]

Photo Reference

  1. Photo by Zip House Design on Unsplash
  2. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

 

Research

 

  1. Rudavsky A & Cook J, Physiotherapy management of patellar tendinopathy, Journal of Physiotherapy 2014; 60: 122-129.
  2. Cook JL, Khan KM, Kiss ZS. Patellar tendinopathy in junior basketball players: a controlled clinical and ultrasonographic study of 268 patellar tendons in players aged 14-18 years. Scand J Med Sci Sports 2000; 10: 216–220.
  3. Malliaras P, Cook JL, Kent PM. Anthropometric risk factors for patellar tendon injury among volleyball players. Br J Sports Med. 2007; 41: 259–263.
  4. Cook JL, Kiss ZS, Khan KM. Anthropometry, physical performance, and ultrasound patellar tendon abnormality in elite junior basketball players: a cross-sectional study. Br J Sports Med 2004; 38: 206–209.
  5. Crossley KM, Thancanamootoo K, Metcalf BR. Clinical features of patellar tendinopathy and their implications for rehabilitation. J Orthop Res 2007; 25: 1164–1175.
  6. Malliaras P, Cook JL, Kent P. Reduced ankle dorsiflexion range may increase the risk of patellar tendon injury among volleyball players. J Sci Med Sport 2006; 9: 304–309.

Author

Dr Ken Nakamura


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