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Stretches to Stop Knee Tendonitis Pain

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT September 17, 2020 0 Comments

Knee stretching

Knee tendonitis stretches can be very beneficial in managing and recovering from the stiffness and soreness that comes with this overuse injury. You can try them for yourself to maintain mobility and improve tolerance for day-to-day activities. Keep reading to learn how to initiate a good stretching program for knee tendonitis.

Hamstring Stretches

The hamstrings in the back of the legs are notoriously tight with a knee injury. This muscle tension is a protective mechanism that can severely limit your normal daily movements without proper attention.

Seated hamstring stretch

Sit on the edge of your chair with the leg you are about to stretch out straight and the heel resting on the ground. The opposite leg will be bent for stability with the foot flat on the floor. Sit up tall with a slight arch in the back as you lean forward over your legs and hinge at the hips. Continue shifting your weight forward until you feel a stretch in the back of the outstretched leg.

Hold 60+ seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Supine hamstring stretch

Lie on your back and grab a towel or a stretch strap. Start with both knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Then, wrap the loop of the strap around the bottom of your foot and hold each end of the strap with your hands. From here, gently straighten the knee until a stretch is felt in the back of the leg. For a deeper stretch, you can pull the entire leg up higher toward your chest.

Hold 60-90 seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Hamstring roll out

Grab a foam roller for this one and start by sitting on the ground with the foam roller underneath both of your thighs. Then, place your hands on each side of your trunk so that you can lift the butt and slowly glide up and down the back of the thighs. If you notice a sore area you can stop, put your butt back down on the ground, and gently straighten and bend the knee until you feel that tender spot relax. Continue adjusting the spot you are addressing until all tender spots feel relaxed.

Roll up and down for 15-20 repetitions.  When stopping to hold and straighten, repeat up to 15 times in each sore spot.

Quadriceps Stretches

The quadriceps muscles are definitely the most affected muscle group with knee tendonitis. Thus, having a couple of good quad stretches will make a big difference with your knee function.

Lying Quad Stretch

With the knees bent, bring the feet out wider than hip-width. Then, let both knees fall to one side and rest them on the ground. With the legs falling to the left side, you will feel the stretch in the right quad and hip. Keep the back and pelvis relatively flat on the floor. Try to relax and give in to the stretch a little bit before switching to the other side.

Hold 60 or more seconds for 2-3 sets on each side.

Standing Quad Stretch

Find a chair or counter for balance before getting started. Then, shift your weight into your right leg as you bend your left knee while keeping the toes pointed. Grab the top of your ankle with your left hand as you guide your heel toward your butt. Go as far as you can tolerate and hold. The goal is to feel a strong stretch in the front of your thigh. Make sure you aren’t arching the low back or leaning forward with the trunk. Don’t forget to switch!

Hold for 60+ seconds for 2-3 sets on each side.

Foam Roller for the Quads

Grab your foam roller again for this one. Lie on your stomach on the floor, propped on your elbows or hands with the roller under both your thighs. Simply use your arms to guide the front thigh muscles up and down on the roller. Do not put direct pressure on the pelvis or knees. If you find some tender points, you can stop, relax, and bend the knee back and forth until you start to feel the spot loosen up.

Roll-back and forth slowly for up to 20 repetitions. Stop and bend the knee rhythmically for 10-15 repetitions as needed.

Yoga Stretches

A few good yoga stretches are always a great way to address many tight muscles groups at once. Always focus on staying relaxed and taking deep breaths. 

Deep Lunge

While standing, bring one foot behind you to get into a lunge position. You want to feel a stretch in the front thigh and hip of the leg that is behind you. To ensure this, make sure both your hips are facing forward and your forward knee is aligned with your toes. For a deeper stretch, let the entire trunk drop down closer to the ground without arching the back. To modify, rest your arms on the thighs or even drop your back knee down to the floor.

Hold for 60+ seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Pigeon Pose

Start on your hands and knees and shift your weight forward into your hands as you bring one leg up toward your arms. Rotate the hip outward as you bring the shin bone and foot across your body. Once your shin is resting on the ground, you can then shift your weight back toward your trunk until you feel a stretch in your butt. Your back leg should be straight behind you, encouraging a nice stretch in the front of the hip.

Hold for 60-90 seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Child’s pose

The starting position is on your hands and knees again. If your injured leg range of motion is limited, you can tuck a towel roll between your thighs and calves for support. Bring your arms out in front of you as you bring your butt back toward your heels and chest toward the thighs. Continue moving until you feel a stretch collectively in the arms, low back, hips, and knees.  Since your knee is injured and sore this is probably where you’ll feel the stretch the most. As you relax into the stretch, try to get your butt closer to your heels as you feel more flexible.

Hold for 60 or more seconds for 2-3 sets on each leg.

Benefits of Stretching

If you’ve ever consistently kept up with a stretching routine, you know that a good stretch just feels good.  Additionally, here are some of the other benefits you can expect:

  • Pain relief and swelling management
  • Decreased muscle tension to help restore lower leg balance
  • Promote blood flow for healing and recovery
  • Improve your performance with daily activities or sport
  • Increase knee range of motion and kneecap mobility

A great adjunct for maximizing other home treatment options.

Stretching Tips

If you’re not sure where to get started with your stretching routine, you can always book some physical therapy sessions. Otherwise, here are a few quick tips for maximizing your stretching routine:

  • Do not force any stretch that causes sharp or severe pain
  • Modify stretches that are too hard with a smaller range of motion or the assistance of a stretch strap or towel
  • Typically, the longer you can hold a stretch the better- shoot for 60 seconds or more
  • Focus on staying relaxed throughout the stretch
  • Keep the abs tight to prevent excessively arching the lower back as you stretch the legs
  • If you find you are having trouble with knee stability with daily activities you may consider the use of a knee brace or sleeve for support
  • Combine your stretches with an in-depth knee strengthening exercises

Safe and Effective Stretches for Patellar Tendonitis

Stretching the knee is important for restoring better function while recovering from patellar tendinitis. Rehab will be gradual yet effective if you continually pay attention to your symptoms and needs. After a good stretch session, the soft tissues around your knee should feel more limber. This will allow you to slowly get back to your normal activities.

If your symptoms are getting worse with gentle stretches or aren’t getting better within a few weeks, bring these concerns up with your physical therapist or doctor.




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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.

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