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Knee Exercises for Tendonitis

Learn which exercises you should do to relieve the symptoms of tendonitis in this Howcast video about physical therapy for knees.


Tendonitis is your most common type of overuse injury. Just by definition it's going to be an inflammatory problem of the tendon, and what the tendon is, is basically the end of the muscle. So there's a little confusion with that, but as a muscle starts to narrow and head towards a bony prominence to attach to, that's where it's called a tendon. At the knee, there's going to be to tendons actually. You have your patellar tendon and your quad tendon. The quad tendon is just above. It attaches the quad to the patella on top, and the patellar tendon is just below attaching the patella to the tibia below.

So there's a couple places where we can develop tendonitis. It typically does develop below the knee though. It's an overuse injury that at first it's going to present very painful and very sharp, and it really affects function.

So with regards to exercises for your tendonitis patient, the first step is to rest properly and to use ice properly. But also you might want to start doing some isometric techniques just to keep the muscles pumping and to keep the muscle strong without losing too much strength. As you're getting through the first three to five days, you can then begin to think about doing some leg exercises where you're starting to bend your knee and straighten out your knee and things like seated knee extension and knee curls or lying on your back and doing some heel slides concentrating on both the flexion and the extension component of the exercise.

The third phase is typically going to be your strengthening exercises where you're lifting your leg up against gravity, maybe doing some side lying leg lifts, some stomach leg lifts, and maybe on your back leg lifts and even getting on to doing your inner thigh.

Then finally you're moving on to more of your functional tasks. These are your squats and your lunges. Squats really work well for your tendonitis patients. You're really lengthening your quad muscle, so you're kind of getting a strengthening effect as well as a stretch on your quad, and that's pretty unique for the squat exercise.

It's a very common problem, tendonitis, and one of the biggest problems with it though if it's an advanced form of it, you may need some help in the early stages of the injury, such as some physical therapy, like some ultrasound treatment or electrical stimulation treatments to just speed up that first phase certainly. We can even use a hydrocortisone treatment where we use it with the ultrasound gel to really provide more of an anti-inflammatory to the knee in that early phase.

Again very common. We see it very often in the clinic. It's usually caused by a skeletal alignment issue or maybe just an imbalance of muscle strength and flexibility in the leg. It's most often associated with your exercise population, although it doesn't have to be. You can simply be overdoing your walking maybe to and from work or stairs at your apartment building they're starting to catch up to you as well. So very common and very, very treatable.

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