Patellar Tendonitis/Jumper’s Knee Exercises

Jumpers knee exercises

Jumper’s knee or Patellar tendonitis exercises are an important part of our full step-by-step rehabilitation program.

Our full, step-by-step Jumper’s knee rehab program has been created by elite-level sports physio Paul Tanner and comprises four phases. At each phase exercises become progressively more advanced:

  • Phase 1: Acute
  • Phase 2: Isotonic exercises
  • Phase 3: Heavy slow resistance
  • Phase 4: Eccentric loading

Phase 1 Jumpers knee exercises

Phase 1 begins as soon as possible after injury. During this phase, you aim to reduce pain and swelling. However, there are a number of exercises you can still do during phase 1.

The following Jumper’s knee exercises form part of our full rehab program and are done alongside treatment methods including rest, cold therapy, taping/bracing, and foam roller.

Only move onto phase 2 when you have achieved the Exit Criteria for this phase.

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Stretching & mobility

Stretching the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh is particularly important and should be done regularly if pain allows.

Quadriceps stretch

Quadriceps stretch - jumper's knee exercises

This stretch is especially important for Patella tendonitis.

  • 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.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat with a short break in between.
  • Aim to do this exercise 1-2 times per day.
  • This should be comfortable, don’t force the stretch.

Hamstring stretch

Standing static hamstring stretch

Hamstring muscles can be stretched in a variety of ways.

  • Stand on one leg with the other resting on a bench or similar.
  • Ease into the stretch and hold.

Active ankle mobility

Ankle mobility exercise

This involves simply bending and straightening your ankle as far as is comfortable. The aim is to maintain joint mobility.

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Cold therapy

Hip flexor stretch

This exercise stretches the iliopsoas muscle and rectus femoris.

  • Place one knee on the floor and the other foot out in front with the knee bent. Be careful to use a mat or padding under the painful knee so as not to aggravate your injury.
  • Push your hips forward and keep your back upright – You should feel a stretch at the front of the hip and upper thigh.
  • Hold for 10-30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times and stretch at least 3 times a day.

Activation exercises

Activation exercises can be done daily, or at least 3 times per week. They are important for making sure your hip and gluteal muscles do not ‘switch off’ whilst you are unable to train normally.

Clam in flexion

Jumper's knee activation exercises - Clam
  • Raise and lower your knee, making sure your hips do not rotate backward whilst performing this exercise.
  • Do 4 sets of 30 seconds with a short rest in between.

Clam in extension

jumper's knee exercises Clam in extension
  • Raise and lower your knee, making sure your hips do not rotate backward whilst performing this exercise.
  • Do 4 sets of 30 seconds with a short rest in between.

Double leg bridge

Double leg bridge
  • Raise your hips up and hold for a couple of seconds before lowering.
  • Do 3 sets of 12 reps with a short break between sets.

Strengthening

These exercises aim to strengthen specific muscle groups. It is too early to begin overloading your injured knee. Therefore, the priority in phase 1 is calf muscle strengthening.

Single leg calf holds

Single leg calf holds

Stand on the edge of a step and allow all your weight onto one leg. This exercise is isometric, meaning it does not involve any movement.

  • Start with 5 sets of 15-second holds, building to 5 sets of 45-second holds.

Movement control

These are not specific Jumper’s knee exercises, however, they are important for maintaining and improving proprioception and coordination. They can be done daily.

Gym ball bridge

Gym ball bridge jumper's knee exercises
  • Perform 3 sets of 8 reps with your legs up on a gym ball (if available).
  • If not, then a chair is ok instead.

Single leg stand

Single leg balance
  • Stand on one leg for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times.
  • If you find this too easy then close your eyes.
  • Or use a wobble board or cushion to make it even more difficult.

Phase 1 Exit Criteria

Move on to phase 2 when

Normal daily activities including walking and stairs (down) are pain-free.

You can do 10 double-leg squats pain-free.

Sign up now to view all full Jumper’s knee exercises with video demonstrations. Track your progress in our rehab app!

Phase 2 Jumpers knee exercises

This is the isotonic exercise phase. Here you begin to perform strengthening exercises that involve movement.

The aim of phase 2 is to gradually increase the load through your knee.

It consists of 14 exercises covering stretching, activation, strengthening, movement control, functional and conditioning.

You also start running again during phase 2.

Phase 3 Jumpers knee exercises

This is the heavy slow resistance phase.

The aim of phase 3 is to further increase the load through your knee.

In addition to the treatment methods phase, 3 consists of 21 exercises, which become more dynamic and challenging than earlier phases.

Register FREE now for our full Jumper’s knee rehab program!

Phase 4 Jumper’s knee exercises

This is the eccentric loading phase. It is eccentric strengthening exercises that are most important for Jumper’s knee.

Phase 4 consists of 13 exercises including progressive running drills. It is aimed at getting you back to full competition fitness.

Register FREE now for our full Jumper’s knee rehab program!

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

GO MOBILE!

Our step-by-step Jumper’s knee rehabilitation program takes you from initial injury to full fitness.

Start now for free:

Iphone app

Learn more…

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