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An Athlete’s Guide to Jumper’s Knee

Jumper’s knee can affect athletes in many sports.

Runner's Knee

Athletes who participate in sports in which they do a lot of jumping like basketball, volleyball, and long jump may experience a painful condition known as Jumper’s Knee.  Jumper’s knee, or patellar tendonitis, is pain in the tendon which attaches the knee cap (patella) to the top of the shin bone (tibia).  Jumper’s knee is typically an overuse injury caused by repetitive strain placed on the patellar or quadriceps tendon during jumping but can affect athletes in “non-jumping” sports as well.

Some of the risk factors that contribute to jumper’s knee are increased body weight, being bow-legged or knock-kneed, having an abnormally high or low kneecap, and having legs of unequal length.  Males are twice as likely as females to be afflicted by jumper’s knee.  An athlete who has tight leg muscles and reduced flexibility in the thighs and hamstrings can have a muscle imbalance which can cause jumper’s knee pain.  Other factors that can contribute to jumper’s knee are the use of steroids which often results in weaker muscles and tendons and being afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis which causes inflammation of the knee joint.

Jumper’s knee typically consists of pain at the bottom front of the kneecap over what is called the lower pole of the patella.  The bottom of the patella will be very tender when pressing in, and activities like jumping are painful.  An athlete suffering from jumper’s knee is likely to experience aching and stiffness after exercise and it is possible that the affected tendon may appear larger than the tendon on the unaffected side.

Jumper’s knee can be categorized into four grades of injury:

  • Grade 1: Pain is experienced in the patellar tendon after training only.
  • Grade 2: Pain is felt before and after training but eases up once the knee is warmed up.
  • Grade 3: Pain is experienced during training and limits athletic performance.
  • Grade 4: Pain is felt even during every day activities.

It is important to pay attention to knee pain.  Jumper’s knee may initially appear to be an annoying minor injury that is not very concerning.  As it may not be a debilitating injury, many athletes may continue to train and compete on it.  However, neglecting jumper’s knee can cause this minor knee pain to become chronic and difficult to treat.

Jumper’s Knee – Prevention

Ideally, athletes should prevent jumper’s knee pain before it starts.  Suggestions for preventing jumper’s knee include:

  • Athletes should pace themselves. It is important to schedule days off from training so the body can heal and regenerate.
  • Improve hip flexibility and mobility by using a tool like the CoreStretch. The CoreStretch allows tissues to elongate, stretch, and relax. The CoreStretch uses the body’s natural traction to provide a deep, effective stretch of the hips, hamstrings, glutes, and quads.
  • An athlete should avoid playing and practicing on hard surfaces when practical.
  • Wearing shoes designed for the sport and that are in good condition will help avoid injury.

If an athlete is experiencing early stages of Jumper’s Knee pain, they can usually treat themselves.  A more severe injury may require longer rest and could result in surgery.

Jumper’s Knee treatments includes:

1. Step 1:  Immediate Relief – Reduce Discomfort

  • Rest or adapt training to reduce impact and jumping activities.
  • Apply ice on a regular basis during the first 24 to 48 hours after experiencing pain and after any form of exercise.
  • Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee StrapWear a knee strap like the Cho-Pat Dual Action Knee Strap to reduce pain of Jumper’s Knee and ease the strain on the tendon. The Dual Action Knee Strap delivers support both above and below the knee. This dual support provides Dynamic Pain Diffusion to reduce the amount of force that is placed on the knee, decrease the chance of misalignment or displacement, and improve tracking.
  • cho-pat_dynamicknee-500x500Use a compression sleeve like the Cho-Pat Dynamic Knee Compression Sleeve which combines warmth, compression, and reinforcement to help reduce pain and discomfort and promote healing.

2. Step 2:  Long Term Healing:  Stretch, Strengthen & Massage

Targeted muscles for healing and preventing Jumper’s Knee

• Gluteus medius
• Piriformis
• Psoas
• Hamstrings
• Quads
• Gastroc

StretchRiteStretching exercises targeting the gluteus medius, piriformis, hamstrings, and quads will help to
ensure flexibility along the posterior chain and can help to prevent future Jumper’s Knee issues.

The patented StretchRite® system features a non-elastic strap which makes it easy to perform each stretch properly and effectively. Six ergonomically-shaped handgrips offer a comfortable non-cinching hold and make it simple to adjust tension during the stretch. The handgrips also serve as visual feedback helping athletes safely stretch and monitor their progress. The StretchRite offers a comfortable, more effective stretch which improves flexibility and promotes healing in the knee.

Successful strengthening programs for Jumper’s Knee have focused on gastroc & soleus muscles as well as proprioceptive training.

Massage and myofacial release can often relieve muscle tension and create tissue mobility contributing significantly towards increasing RangeRoller-2194flexibility and reducing the occurrence of Jumper’s Knee . RangeRoller®’s unique design allow you to use both the TriggerTreads™ for increasing circulation as well as the end of the RangeRoller handle for releasing trigger points.
For increased flexibility, circulation and performance consider massaging the:
• Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL – at the bending point of the hip)
• Glutes
• Quads
• Gastroc & soleus