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Patella Tendinitis and The Life Of The Young Athlete

Young athletes today are more active than ever before and their schedules and

competition can really take a toll on their bodies due to physical requirements of

practices and games. Plus the pressure of competition is pushing our young

athletes to spend more hours then ever before on sports specific training.

Athletes are pressured to perfect their skill, because opportunities today are very

limited especially at the higher levels. So as parents we instill in our kids that if

you put in the work you will reap the benefits. But the one thing we are forgetting

is understanding the difference between a young athletes chronological age and

developmental age. Many coaches today focus primarily on an athletes

chronological age, which means if they are old enough and can perform the

movement then it’s ok to do it over and over again. Which is far from the truth,

we as coaches should focus on the developmental age of our kids, meaning we

should first help them start by building the proper foundation and mastering

their basic movements skills. Athletes are always going to overcompensate and

thats understandable with older athletes but for younger athletes that are still

developing we are doing a disservice. We need to focus on the health and safety

of our athletes, but instead preparation is geared toward the short term outcome

(winning) and not toward the process of longer term athletic development.

So what is Patella Tendinitis:

Patellar tendinitis, is a common overuse injury to your patella tendon, caused

by repetitive contraction of the quadriceps muscles in the thigh that stresses the

patellar tendon. The patellar tendon is a flexible but inelastic cord of strong

fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone. If you experience this injury

you will start to feel pain between your kneecap and where the tendon attaches

to your shinbone (tibia). Initially, you may only feel pain in your knee as you begin

physical activity or just after an intense workout. Overtime the tears in the

tendon multiply, and start to cause pain from inflammation and weakening of the

tendon which will start to interfere with playing your sport. The patellar tendon

works with the muscles at the front of your thigh to extend your knee so that you

can kick, run and jump. This is why it also known as jumpers knee…

Here are some of the risk factors that may contribute to the development of

patellar tendinitis:

• Physical activity. Running and jumping are most commonly associated

with patellar tendinitis. Sudden increases in how hard or how often you

engage in the activity also add stress to the tendon, as can changing your

running shoes.

• Tight leg muscles. Tight thigh muscles (quadriceps) and hamstrings, which

run up the back of your thighs, can increase strain on your patellar tendon.

• Muscular imbalance. If some muscles in your legs are much stronger than

others, the stronger muscles could pull harder on your patellar tendon. This

uneven pull could cause tendinitis.

• Chronic illness. Some illnesses disrupt blood flow to the knee, which

weakens the tendon. Examples include kidney failure, autoimmune diseases

such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis and metabolic diseases such as


To reduce your risk of developing patellar tendinitis, take these steps:

• Don't play through pain. As soon as you notice exercise-related knee pain,

ice the area and rest. Until your knee is pain-free, avoid activities that put

stress on your patellar tendon.

• Strengthen your muscles. Strong thigh muscles are better able to handle

the stresses that can cause patellar tendinitis. Eccentric exercises, which

involve lowering your leg very slowly after extending your knee, are

particularly helpful.

• Improve your technique. To be sure you're using your body correctly,

consider taking lessons or getting professional instructions when starting

a new sport or using exercise equipment.

For most people, treatment of patellar tendinitis begins with physical

therapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles around the knee.

#patella #patellatendon #patellatendinitis #tendinitis #youthathletes #gettingstronger #lifeofaathlete

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