Runners, jumpers, and martial arts kickers! We all know that sometimes the activity we love causes pain that we hate. And we sometimes have to do something before the pain derails us and our exercise is totally off the tracks! Certain high velocity sports and/or repetitive explosive movement sports, such as basketball and volleyball, tend to cause lower leg issues. For example a minor kneecap tracking problem, compounded with repetitive motion over time, can lead to an infra patellar tendonitis, or jumper’s knee.
Although the best way to avoid car crashes is to just ‘not drive’, this isn’t totally realistic when it comes to movement either, we HAVE to move. So a great way to avoid injury instead of not moving, is to ‘defensive drive’, or correct the problem pre-emptively. For our knees, we want to enhance and normalize our patellar tracking so that a minor pain can be reduced and a major injury can be prevented. Proper strengthening and stretching can really reduce the chance of any further injury.
Jumper’s knee occurs when the lateral quadriceps, IT band, and Tensor Fasciae Latae (TFL) muscles are overtight, and the Vastus Medialus muscle is under-developed or ‘loose’. This causes the knee cap to pull laterally (to the outside of the knee) and outside of its smooth articular groove. When it is out of alignment and repeatedly still being used, the tendon becomes very irritated and be quite painful. The knee cap will start to grind with the structures along the side of its groove.
One of the ways to prevent this or to correct it if it’s already started to become irritated is to strengthen up the Vastus Medialus Obliquus (VMO – medial head of the quadriceps muscle) and to stretch out the lateral compartment of the hips, IT, and quads area. This will help pull the kneecap back medially into proper alignment. This will help your patella get its GROOVE back.
Some exercises I typically do to correct this problem are shown in the video for patellofemoral pain. These exercises need to be done properly and consistently to affect any change. Like anything change doesn’t always come easy and your body doesn’t always welcome it so we need to work hard for the positive results we want. Consistency is important!