Patellar Tendonitis Exercises

Patella tendonitis exercises form part of our Patella tendonitis rehabilitation program. Created by elite sports physiotherapist Paul Tanner it includes stretching & mobility, strengthening, movement control and functional exercises.

When can I begin Patellar tendonitis exercises?

You can begin Patella tendonitis/Jumper’s knee exercises as soon as possible. Initially, as this is an overuse injury the focus is on stretching and not loading the tendon with strengthening exercises.

Stretching exercises for Patellar tendonitis

You can begin Patellar tendonitis stretching exercises as soon as possible. The quadriceps muscle stretch is the most important, however, hamstring, calf and adductor muscle stretches are also important.

Patellofemoral mobes

Mobilise the patella by moving it up and down as well as side to side.

Quadriceps stretch

This is a very important Jumper’s knee stretching exercise. Keep your knees together and gently pull your leg up. You should feel a stretch at the front of the leg which should not be painful. Hold onto something for balance if you need to or try holding your ear with the opposite arm.

Other stretching exercises

In addition to specific patellar tendonitis stretches, our program also includes stretching exercises for the hamstrings and ankle mobility exercises.

Strengthening exercises

These exercises specifically target your knee. The aim as you progress through the rehab program is to progressively increase the load through your patella tendon without aggravating it.

Isometric leg press

Isometric exercises mean no movement. Use a leg press machine if possible, or alternatively, hold a bent knee position on the edge of a step. Never go past 90 degrees of knee bend with this exercise as this places too much stress on the patella. Start with the weaker/injured leg and do the same but no more on your stronger leg.

Heavy leg press for Patellar tendonitis

This is the most important strengthening exercise in the later phases of our rehab program. A leg press machine is best, but you can do a weighted box squat as a substitute.

Step down counterbalance squat front

Only drop as far as is comfortable and use a slow, controlled movement at all times. Make sure you do both legs, not just the injured one.

Hack squat

Perform slow repetitions.

Decline single-leg squat

The aim of this exercise is to increase the load through the patella tendon. Studies show that single-leg squats at decline angles >15° result in a 40% increase in maximum patellar tendon force. Perform on a sloping board or raise your heels on a block or weights disc. Avoid bending the knee more than 60° as this puts larger forces through the patella. Wear a backpack to increase the load if required.

Eccentric leg press

Push up with both legs and lower slowly with one leg.

Eccentric knee extension

To do this exercise you need access to a leg extension machine at a gym.

Other exercises

Other strengthening exercises included in our Jumpers knee rehabilitation program include ankle exercises and activation exercises to keep your hip muscles firing.

Movement control exercises

These exercises improve your proprioception. This is your body’s ability to sense where parts of it are in space. When you are injured, your proprioception is often damaged. Therefore it is important to do these exercises as part of a Patellar tendonitis exercise program.

Single leg balance

Gym ball bridge

Functional exercises

These exercises for Patellar tendonitis bridge the gap between basic strengthening and more sport/activity-specific training.

Box jump to outside leg

Jump off the box from 2 feet landing on your outside leg. Maintain control of the landing. Hold or ‘stick’ the final position to prove you have control.

Box jump to inside leg

Jump off a box or step with 2 feet and land on your inside leg. Maintain the end position for a couple of seconds.

Lateral box jump

Step sideways over the box, placing both feet on top each time. Keep light and fast on your toes.

Read more on Patellar tendonitis/Jumper’s knee

Jumper’s knee taping

Meet the program author

Paul Tanner

Paul is head of Medical Services at Millwall Football Club, dealing with all aspects of match and training day sports physiotherapy and medical cover.

His career also includes First Team Physio at Norwich City Football Club and Senior physiotherapist to London Wasps Rugby first-team squad.

Paul Tanner Patellar tendonitis exercises

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