Quadricep tendonitis is a super common cause of knee pain. This post may help you to identify whether you are suffering from it and to help with understanding how to work to improve it. However, if you suspect an injury such as this it is wise to get it seen by a physiotherapist as soon as you can.
What is Quadriceps Tendonitis?
The quadriceps tendon attaches your quad muscles to the top of your knee, and helps to form part of your patella tendon across the front of your leg. The tendon in the anchor point between the muscle tissue and the bone.
When you overload a tendon beyond what it is capable of recovering from you many cause micro trauma and damage. This damage will lead to an inflammatory response in the tendon with some of the common symptoms being pain and swelling
What does quad tendon pain feels like?
Quadriceps tendinitis will vary in severity. At the start it may feel like a tightness or discomfort across the knee during knee bending activities such as squatting, jumping or lunging. As the condition progresses this discomfort may increase to be quite painful and will begin to effect you during other more simple activists such as walking and going up and down the stairs
What causes quad tendinitis?
What causes the tendon to be overloaded will vary from person to person but common causes include:
Highly repetitive movements - jumping, running or squatting
Muscle tightness in the hamstrings, hip flexors, and/or quadriceps
Poor lower limb biomechanics of the hip, knee and ankle
Weakness in the quadriceps muscles
Instability of the hip or ankle
How to treat quadricep tendonitis:
The treatment of this condition will depend on what’s found in your physiotherapy assessment. A detailed subjective history is also key to identify any potential training errors too as tendons are susceptible to overuse and damage if the training load is poorly considered - for example ramping up running mileage too soon, or loading the squat too quickly, or even adding in plyometric training to your normal sessions too frequently without adequate recovery time between sessions to adapt.
Physiotherapy treatment for quad tendon pain will include
Strengthening exercises for the quadriceps tendon itself, the quad muscles and the hip stability muscles
Stretching exercises for any tight muscles
Offloading the irritated tendon
Rest and Ice for any acute pain
Strapping with tape or a knee brace may be useful in some cases when playing sport
Working on your sport technique
Example strengthening exercises for the knee
Here is an example of an exercise that you may be prescribed by your physiotherapist, and how it will progress over time to strengthen your quadricep.
Initial stage: Knee isometrics like a wall sit or leg extension machine
Progression: Eccentric leg extension using the leg extension machine (controlled heavy lowering)
Progression: heel elevated squat
Progression: More advanced eccentrics like a reverse nordic curl or sissy squat
Progression: return to sport and increase in plyometrics
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