I know I usually write about subjects surrounding fat loss but hopefully this article can help people. I have suffered with Tendonitis for years and I had to stop playing football because of it. I found out I had tendonitis in both my knees when I was 18 due to overuse and under development of my quadriceps. Since going to different physiotherapists and consultations plus doing a bit of my own research, I have gathered up some experience which might help. Waiting lists can be frustrating when going to see a specialist so while you’re waiting why not try a few of these ideas.
What is Knee Tendonitis?
Knee Tendonitis is pain usually found in the knee, in the tendon found at the tibia that runs up to the patella. Tendonitis usually occurs due to over use. The chronic pain that occurs from the tendon can fluctuate and the usual aid for this injury is rest, which for most people isn’t an option or a basic strength programme can be provided. Basically when the tendon is put under stress tears appear in the tendon. For the majority of people these tears can be repaired whereas tendonitis occurs when these tears out do the rate of recovery possible from the tendon.
Why does it occur?
There are a number of reasons why this pain can occur.
1)Over training (this is the most frustrating answer to be given)
2)Training on firm surfaces (3G pitches / Astro pitches)
3)Poor foot posture (when you see your physiotherapist he/she will identify this issue early on)
4)Poor Flexibility (Specifically Hamstrings & Quadriceps)
5) Under development of muscle groups (Hamstring & Quadriceps)
What does it feel like?
The pain will gradually become more intense if you do not address the issue but it feels like a sharp knife like pain in the knee. After training the pain would decrease but I found that the longer I went on training, the longer the pain would hang around. The pain can sometimes run into the night and upset your sleeping pattern. The final straw for me was when I would be driving and I needed to get out of the car just to get some movement in my leg to release the pain for a short while.
Now that we know what it is and why it might occur, how do we address the issue?
1)Rest (this can be very frustrating, it may feel pain free but as soon as you do a few minutes of exercise you might start to feel the pain again, if so stop you have rushed back too soon). Back to the drawing board.
2)Plasma injections – The surgery involves the taking of your own plasma (from your arm) and injected into the damaged area of the tendon. Since the tendon has poor blood supply, hence why it’s not recovering properly, the new plasma injected into this area should help increase the healing process. After my MRI scan I was recommended by a different consultant that this was the best route. 8 – 12 weeks later I returned for this surgery nut when I got there I was told that this procedure was not guaranteed to work and that the consultant who gave me this option no longer worked for them so they discarded the operation. I was panicking for weeks about this surgery and I’m terrible when it comes to blood – ask anyone who knows me.
3)Resistance training programmes will be provided for you to follow.
When you are following this programme you should just concentrate on these exercises alone. Exercises should be performed twice a day: It took me around 3 weeks just to be able to complete the basic exercises i.e. Full reps/sets
Decline Squats (progress to single leg decline squats) 15 x 2
Step ups (Use bench)
Single Leg Squat (Other leg on bench) – I struggled with this one badly
Leg Extensions (Eccentric phase) – Keep the weight light and control the movement throughout
I found that I could hit around 10 reps for each for the first two weeks as the pain was intense. There will be discomfort performing these exercises.
4) Make sure that you warm up correctly before performing the resistance exercises, I will be the first to admit that I would warm up correctly in the gym but when it came to football I just wanted to hit shots at the keeper. Cover all the warm up aspects, mobility exercises, static stretches, I would also recommend a foam roller as well. If you want a pulse raiser go on an exercise bike as it has no to very little impact on your knees.
If you feel that improvement has been made and that you can go back to the gym to smash a leg session please take a step back and act with caution. Ensure that you still take time to do a proper warm up targeting mobility at the hips/ankles followed by stretching of the glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves. Keep progressing your training to strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. The majority of people who train legs have some sort of squat in their workout. The squat itself can really hit the tendon in the knee hard if we don’t do it properly. So before going back into normal squats give yourself a few more weeks and concentrate on box squats instead.
Why am I suggesting box squats?
Simply, it will help to ensure that the load of the bar is targeting the correct muscle groups and taking the strain off the tendon. If you don’t know what a box squat is, it is a normal squat except that you are squating down onto a box or usually a bench. A bench is more readily available and can be a little bit higher than a box. You might not get the same depth but you are able to sit down into the squat better keeping your heels flat to the ground.
Hopefully this information will help keep the tendonitis under control. I’m going to touch on one last aspect. The quick fix. If it’s out there I’ve probably used it. These should only be used as a last resort and only for a short period of time. These are some of the most common ones to help you power through:
1)Ice your knees within 20 minutes of exercise, this can help for a period of time and the relief is something to behold.
2) Kinesio Tape (KT tape) This is the coloured tape that you see many sporting personnel using. There are a few variations on how to apply this to the tendon – either way for the full effect of it you must ensure that it can make full contact to the skin, this means that you will have to shave the area you are applying it to beforehand.
3)Patella knee strap – The mechanics of how these help to decrease the pain in the knee are not fully understood. It could be more of a physiological boost but we know how powerful the mind can be. The straps are fine to use but if you play a contact sport you could find yourself searching the other side of the field for your strap after being involved in a tackle.
4)Diclofenac gel (anti-inflammatory) – This was the last product I used to try and fight the pain. I did see some benefits to using the gel but again I wouldn’t want to be relying on it long-term.
Each of these products/treatments have their place but they are a quick fix. If you have issues but have time to rest then do so. I recommend strength training and gradually building it up.
Hopefully you found this article useful, these are just my views from my own experience with the issue and the exercises that I used, and also some I was prescribed by a doctor/ physiotherapist. Waiting months to get an appointment about the issue can be frustrating so in the meantime try these exercises out and keep me posted about how you get on. Hopefully you will be back training to the max in the near future.