Patellar Tendonitis: How I Finally Recovered From Jumper’s Knee
I was never even a jumper. I played below the rim. You don’t have much choice as a 5’11” white guy from the suburbs. But here I was battling patellar tendonitis for months on end. And man, jumper’s knee was quite a pain in my ass. Luckily, I figured out how to minimize the effects of the pain and get back to living my day-to-day life. You can, too!
If you’re looking for detailed medical information about patellar tendonitis and what the doctors say, then visit Web MD or go to the physician. I’m not going to get into detailed studies and all that jazz. I’m here to tell you what worked for me. I’m going to show you how to beat your patellar tendonitis – for real.
My First Bout With Patellar Tendonitis
I had just recovered from ankle surgery four months prior, and I was back to balling. I started off slowly. I didn’t want to come back to quick. Two weeks of catch and shooter jumpers. No cutting. No sprinting. Next, I began doing drills for a few weeks. Then I came back to playing. Only hooping for 30-45 minutes a day for the first month or so. After two months, I was back. I wasn’t moving like I used to, but I could play ball.
I had a solid month or so before it happened. One spin move and I felt a tweak. It wasn’t too painful, but it wasn’t “right” either. I kept playing for about fifteen minutes before calling it a day. I iced and heated my knee immediately after. A few anti-inflammatories that night and I figured I’d be good to go the next day.
I wasn’t. The week after I felt a tweak every single step I took. I rested it. And rested it some more. Nothing changed. I went to the training room at school and got some treatment. The head trainer checked it out and immediately knew what had happened. I had patellar tendonitis. I got an MRI, and it seemed it was just a little bout with tendonitis. I was relieved. Tendonitis is better than another surgery.
Honestly, it wasn’t. It took me 13 months, thousands of dollars, and a lot of trial and error to fix patellar tendonitis. Plus, the pesky injury has crept back up on me two more times (including currently). Luckily, I now know how to heal my body when jumper’s knee creeps back up.
How to Fix Your Patellar Tendon Pain
I want to repeat this: I’m no doctor. This is not medical advice. I healed my patellar tendon pain multiple times by doing the things below. They may help you. They may not. Every case of jumper’s knee is a little different. So without further ado, here’s how to *potentially* fix your patellar tendonitis:
P.S: These tips are in no particular order. What may work for your tendonitis might not for someone else.
See a Doctor
If you haven’t seen a doctor already, then you need to. Before you set off on any plan to heal yourself, you need to know exactly what you’re dealing with. You may think you’re dealing with knee tendonitis when it’s a tear or something more serious. You want to get the facts straight before you proceed.
I’ve waited to go to the doctor too many times, and it’s cost me dearly. Just go. Figure it out. Ask them to look at your knee through Ultrasound if cash is tight and an MRI isn’t an option. You can see patellar issues using an Ultrasound. Don’t let the doctor tell you differently. Once you have a diagnosis, you can proceed.
P.S: Studies show getting surgery for tendonitis is ineffective (for the most part). DON’T opt for this solution unless you’ve exhausted everything else, including: PRP, Prolotherapy, Stem Cells, and physical therapy.
Rest is one of the worst things you can do for jumper’s knee or any form of patellar tendon pain. If you only stop exercising and limit your activity, you’ll end up prolonging the injury. However, there’s a fine line between resting and putting too much pressure on the degenerative tendons.
See, your tendons and cartilage need blood flow to heal themselves. By resting, you’re sending less blood to the injured areas than you were before. This results in a longer recovery time. I’ve battled tendonitis a number of times and rest has never done me any good.
You’ll have to scale back your activity, but you don’t want to sit around and hope it heals. There’s a good chance it won’t. You need to be actively helping your body heal itself. That means rushing blood to the injured areas as much as possible. Think of your tendonitis on a 1-10 scale. You can still do anything that doesn’t result in pain above 4-5 on that scale. If the pain subsides back to “normal” after a good nights sleep, then continue doing these activities. If your jumper’s knee is worse after performing activities that offer pain from 4-5 on the 1-10 scale, then you need to back off a bit.
For example, with my current patellar tendon pain, I can still do deadlifts (5X5) a few times a week. The morning after a deadlifting day my pain has normalized, and I can still go about doing what I want to do. However, I tried squatting a bit last week and woke up feeling more pain than I had in awhile. Squats were immediately removed from my training for the next month or so.
Inflammation is Good
Inflammation is a good thing for your patellar tendonitis. You don’t want to eliminate all inflammation with anti-inflammatories while you have tendonitis. Anti-inflammatories won’t help heal your tendonitis. They’ll simply mask the pain for a short time.
Don’t take ibuprofen or naproxen while dealing with patella tendonitis unless the pain is unmanageable. If you want to take a few anti-inflammatories when you first begin suffering, that’s ok. However, don’t rely on pills to manage your pain. This habit will lead to a longer recovery time.
To manage the inflammation, you’ll want to do a few things. First, you need to get more greens in your diet. Salads and broccoli should be consumed liked crazy. You’ll also want to follow the juicing and supplements protocol I lay out below. Tendonitis is a minor, nagging injury. So any little thing you do to benefit your cause can add up.
Not steroids! Fruits and vegetables. When I’m suffering from an injury, I try to pump my body full of fresh juice. Juicing fruits and vegetables can speed up your recovery time like crazy. In fact, I’m not sure I would have gotten healthy during my first bout of patellar tendonitis without my juicer. It’s that important.
To start, you’ll need a juicer. I bought this one last year and can’t say enough positive things about it. The Breville Compact Juice Fountain offers an impressive yield, works quickly, and is incredibly easy to clean. Highly recommended. Once you have a juicer, you’ll need a recipe that focuses on injury recovery. Here’s my favorite:
Pineapple / Kale / Carrot / Beet Juice
- 2 carrots
- 2 cups chopped pineapple
- 6-12 kale leaves and stems
- 1 full beet
The recipe above combines leafy greens, with pineapple, and beets for a winning combination. Pineapple is the most important ingredient, as the fruit is chalk full of Bromelain. Bromelain is one of the most important supplements to speed up healing and has been shown to speed healing of bones.
I make and drink the above juice one time a day when I have tendonitis. Then I also take a green juice powder to get even more vegetables. While green powders have flooded the market recently, this one is what I take. It’s a high quality product and 50-80% cheaper than similar products available online. I notice a difference in how I feel when taking Amazing Grass.
The combination of eating a lot of leafy greens, juicing, and taking a green powder supplement will ensure you get a ton of healing nutrients in your body. Do NOT ignore this step if you’re suffering from any nagging injury. Nutrition is absolutely essential when battling jumper’s knee.
Supplements also play a vital role in healing your damaged knee. I’ve tried nearly every supplement under the sun for knee pain. Most of them suck. Most supplements don’t do much, especially when dealing with a nagging injury. However, I’ve found a few things help my pain.
First, you need to make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet. I’ve written about this before. When recovering, you want about one gram of protein per pound of body weight. Your body needs proteins to fully recover. If you’re not eating enough protein in your diet, then supplement with a shake. I prefer Red Supplements White Vanilla, as it’s the best protein powder I’ve ever tasted.
Next, you’ll want to add a multivitamin to your routine. While this isn’t essential, my favorite men’s multivitamin was formulated with joint health in mind. If you’re struggling with any nagging injury, then supplementing with Controlled Labs Orange Triad is a great idea.
Next, you’ll want to add a few other supplements to your regime. These pills and powders aren’t “game changers” by themselves. However, when taken in conjunction with the rest of the tips here, they can add up and make a significant difference. Here are the three supplements I recommend individuals suffering from jumper’s knee take:
Now, you didn’t get patella issues for now reason. There’s an underlying cause of the injury. Tendons don’t degenerate for no reason. Why is your patellar tendon not recovering like it should? You could be overusing the knee. You could have an awkward gait which puts too much pressure on the area. Maybe your body is deficient in a nutrient that’s required for tendon health, and your patellar was the first one to feel the effects of malnutrition.
I’m spitballing here, but the idea is the same no matter the issue. You need to focus on healing the tendon and correcting the cause at the same time. For me, my left patellar tendon takes a lot of pressure because I had ankle surgery on my right side and I compensate for the surgery with my left knee.
When my patellar tendon pain starts up, I know to start focusing on the flexibility in my right ankle, again. Then I consciously begin thinking about shifting pressure away from the tendon, as I naturally overcompensate to the left. But that’s just me. Your situation will be completely different. Going to a doctor or a physical therapist can help you figure out what the underlying cause of your tendonitis is – if you haven’t a clue in the world.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. VooDoo Flossing can HEAL your tendon. You read that right. By properly VooDoo Flossing, you can repair your patellar tendon over time. Time being 2-5 months of continuous injury recovery and proper nutrition. Like I said, tendonitis doesn’t go away quickly.
VooDoo Flossing uses compression to flush your muscles and tendons with blood. You wrap the injured knee tightly (not too tight, but movement should be slightly restricted) and then move around with the knee compressed for 2-3 minutes. Once you removed the band, blood flushes into your knee and patellar tendon. This sends nutrients into the tendon and is a perfect warm up before a workout. I try to floss 3-4X a week when injured.
Another vital step in healing patella tendonitis is eccentric strengthening. Often, tendonitis can eat away at your muscle tone and growth near the injury. For instance, when my patellar tendinopathy flares up, my left calf always shrinks a little bit. And when this happens, the injury takes longer and longer to recover from. Muscle wasting isn’t beneficial for healing.
Combine this with the fact that you need to strengthen and remodel the tendon for it to heal, and you have a dilemma. You need to train the injured area, but you don’t want to aggravate the patellar tendon pain too much. Enter eccentric strengthening exercises. Google eccentric strengthening if you don’t trust me. I’m not going to get into the science of the exercises and tendonitis. What I will tell you is this – THEY WORK.
Eccentric strengthening is essential to healing the patellar tendon. To begin, you need to assess pain levels. If your pain is high, then stick with eccentric one leg press. If the pain is moderate to minimal, start with the one-legged leg press and then move to eccentric one-legged leg extensions.
You’ll want to do 3-4 sets of 15-30 reps at least twice a week. You can train eccentrically up to four times a week once your tendons begin to adapt to the training. Below you’ll find examples of the two exercises:
Heat is Good
While everyone’s body reacts differently to stimulus, I’ve found heat is far preferable to ice when treating patellar tendonitis. Heat flushes the injured area with blood, which is essential to healing your patella when tendonitis kicks in. Using a microwavable heating pad for 10-15 minutes twice a day or when pain flares up is advisable.
If you like icing the injury, try an heat-ice-heat cycle. Do tens minutes of heat, followed by twenty minutes with an ice pack, and then back to another 10-15 with heat.
PRP For the Win
PRP injections, or platelet rich plasma, is a game-changer when tendonitis is the topic at hand. I had three PRP injections in my patellar tendon nearly three years ago, and my tendon was 100% healthy until my cartridge ripped playing basketball. If you’ve exhausted all the options above, then you may want to consider PRP as a possible final resort.
There are a few keys to talk about when considering PRP. First, you need a doctor who knows what he or she is doing. Find the best one in your area. Ultrasound guidance is an absolute requirement. Next, you need to understand the costs. PRP injections cost around $500 per. Your insurance won’t pay for them. It’s out-of-pocket.
Lastly, you’ll want to continue with a majority of the protocol above after each injection. The timeframe for recovery after each injection goes: around three days to one week of straight rest. Then you’ll build up your training and recovery to where it was before for a month. Next, you’ll increase activity (even with some pain) for 3-4 weeks. Then you’ll get the next shot. So you have around two months between each injection. Some people recover in two, while others need three injections.
Stop Thinking About It
One of the most important things when dealing with tendonitis is to forget about it. You’ll double or triple the time it takes to recover if you sit around thinking about the pain all day. Stop dwelling on the tendonitis! Get out there and live your life. Patella tendonitis sucks, but it’s not debilitating.
If you’re struggling with patella issues, then focus on your upper body in the gym (although don’t gain too much extra weight). So you can’t squat heavy or run for a few months. It’s not a big deal. If you follow the protocol here, you’ll give your body the best chance to recover. It might not happen on your timeframe, but it eventually will. You’ll get back to enjoying life (relatively) pain-free soon enough.
Personally, I had patellar tendinitis creep up on me a few times. I’d get all depressed. I’d start to postpone plans and travels. Then I’d sit at home and “wait” for my body to heal. It never fully did. When I was sitting and waiting, my body never fully recovered. I was thinking about the injury too much.
Eventually, I hit the road. I rocked a knee brace all day and night. I’d go out dance with a knee brace under my jeans. I traveled around with a huge suitcase full of supplements. And guess what? After two months on the road, my injury was back to normal. I felt 100% again! The reason? I stopped dwelling and started living.
Focus on healing your patellar tendinopathy, but don’t dwell on it and postpone your life. Stay in constant motion and stay positive. Your knee will heal 10X faster if you do.
Fixing Patellar Tendinopathy
Jumper’s knee is a bitch. It’s caused countless headaches in my life, but it’s manageable. You CAN heal your patellar tendonitis. You just need a plan and some execution. If you have any questions for me about dealing with knee tendonitis, sound off in the comments or shoot me an email. I’d be happy to respond and help you recover. I’m by no means a doctor or expert, but I want to see anyone suffering from jumper’s knee get healthy as fast as possible.