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Fit and fine: Take it easy or you’ll develop a Jumper’s Knee

Any sport which involves lots of running and jumping like volleyball or basketball can lead to jumper’s knee.

health Updated: Mar 13, 2019 11:20 IST
Kamal Singh CSCS
Kamal Singh CSCS
Hindustan Times
overuse injury,Cross-training,workouts
The most common overuse injury to the kneecap and the tendon, that connects the knee to the shin bone, can be caused by sudden increase in sports activities (Shutterstock)

Cross-training was the latest and hottest fitness trend in town and Sumeet was ever ready to try such new trends. He was already into playing soccer and tennis on weekends, and cross-training workouts couple of times a week seemed like a good idea.

After a heavy workout of box jumps, burpees and barbell snatches, the front of Sumeet’s knee started to throb. By the time he reached home, there was a mild swelling around the knee and he could not climb up the stairs to his first floor apartment. He iced the swollen, painful knee and the knee became better and went back to his physical activities. Soon the swelling and tenderness around the knee became unbearable, forcing Sumeet to go see his doctor.

While examining Sumeet’s knee, the doctor was able to provoke the pain by just pressing on the tendon, which connects the knee cap or patella to the shin bone. The diagnosis – patellar tendonosis or jumper’s knee.

What’s the cause behind this ache?

Jumper’s knee is the most common overuse injury to the kneecap and the tendon that connects the knee to the shin bone. The pain is usually in the front/lower portion of the knee. The pain usually begins with physical activity, i.e. when you begin to warm up. There could be swelling and tenderness around the knee.

Jumper’s knee differs from runner’s knee as to where the pain is located. Pain in front and bottom of the kneecap is generally jumper’s knee whereas pain, top and behind the kneecap is usually runner’s knee.

Jumper’s knee can be caused by sudden increase in activities like running, sports like football, tennis or badminton. Also, any sport which involves lots of running and jumping like volleyball or basketball can lead to jumper’s knee. Tight and weak quadriceps and hamstrings put lots of stress on the patellar tendon, which can cause jumper’s knee.

Find the cure in resting, stretching and strengthening

•Easing up on the running, sporting activity or even stopping for a while is the first step. The overused tissues need to be rested for them to recover. If losing fitness is a concern, then alternate means of cardiovascular exercise – rowing, swimming or cycling can be used. As long as it does not provoke pain, any exercise modality can be used.

•Icing works well for reducing pain and swelling.

Icing works well for reducing pain and swelling ( Shutterstock )

•Foam rolling the quadriceps can help ease stiffness and improve range of motion.

Foam rolling the quadriceps can help ease stiffness ( Shutterstock )

•Stretch the quadriceps to increase their flexibility.

Stretch the quadriceps to increase their flexibility ( Shutterstock )

•To strengthen the quadriceps and the patellar tendon, do slow Step Downs standing on a slant board. Put a sturdy piece of wood/plank on a low stool or bench. Stand on the plank with the affected leg, toes pointing downwards. With the other foot, touch the floor in front with the heel and come back up. That is one repetition. Do three sets with 15 repetitions per set.

After the knee heals, come back to activity slowly. Also, do not ignore a proper warm up before starting to play, run or lift. Maintaining a regimen of icing and stretching after physical activity could help keeping the injury appearing again.

A strength and conditioning coach for the last 15 years, Kamal Singh, CSCS, specialises in post rehabilitation training and functional training.

(This is a fortnightly column. The next column will appear on March 24)

From HT Brunch, March 10, 2019

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First Published: Mar 09, 2019 23:21 IST