The knee consists of two joints, your tibio-femoral joint (which connects your femur bone and your tibia bone) and the patella-femoral joint (which connects your femur to your patella also known as your kneecap). Throughout these joints there are a lot of structures which can cause pain or become dysfunctional or damaged. The more common knee injuries include Patellar Tendon Tendinopathy (aka Jumper’s Knee), Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome (sometimes diagnosed as Runner’s Knee), or damage to the ligaments and cartilage supporting the knee such as your Medial and Lateral Collateral Ligaments, your Anterior and Posterior Cruciate Ligaments or your medial and lateral menisci. Some of these injuries can be more serious than others and require more time to recover from but with any knee pain a full and thorough assessment should be made by a trained professional before any decisions are made on the best plan of action for recovery.
Runner’s knee is a very non-specific description of any knee pain experienced by runners and should always be fully assessed, however one thing that is usually common with most overload related knee pain is weakness and “tightness” in the lateral hip muscles and gluteal muscles in particular.
Exercises aimed at rectifying those weakness, creating a stronger leg and helping promote better running mechanics can go a long way towards improving your knee function and reducing your pain enough to allow you to return to a graded running programme as soon as possible.
Patellar tendon pain is a common complaint in active individuals particularly those involved in sports involving a lot of jumping, sprinting and changing direction on a variety of surfaces. It can also occur as a result of a big increase in load for lower body strength training when in the gym. It usually manifests itself around the area just below your kneecap at the front of your knee at the junction with your shin bone.
Often the move to hard summer pitches combined with an increased training and match load can result in tendon related injuries.
Tendon rehab can be complicated, long and tends to be very individual, however using a progressive strengthening programme and a graded and well managed return to your sport or activity level more often than not does the trick.
There are a number of exercises which will strengthen the tendons and muscles supporting the knee however the key to managing and rehabbing knee tendon pain is to start at a level that is appropriate to your pain levels and gradually increase the loading with the help of regular assessment and rehab progressions from a certified Athletic Therapist and Trainer. Over time you will increase your painful tendon’s capacity and tolerance to pain and complete a full return to play/sport/activity.