With basketball becoming more and more popular, basketball related injuries are increasingly seen in the clinic. Knee injuries are most commonly presented to our clinic as a result of basketball, in particular a condition called patellar tendinopathy.
Commonly referred to as ‘Jumper’s Knee’, this condition is an overload injury which presents following an increase in jumping and landing, sprinting and change of direction, and returning to playing after a break or on new or harder surfaces. It is generally more common in higher level play and in young male athletes, however it can present across both genders in athletes aged from their late teens to their 30s.
When it comes to how to prevent knee injuries in basketball, there are several preventative and reactive treatment measures that can be taken.
What is Jumper’s Knee?
Jumper’s knee is an irritation of patella tendon as a result of repetitive strain or overload in the knee. Jumper’s typically present as a pin point pain at the bottom of the knee cap and are not usually accompanied by any swelling or bruising.
What are the symptoms of Jumper’s Knee?
Telltale signs used to diagnose Jumper’s Knee include reported pain during and following:
- Squats and single leg squats
- Deep bending
- Rising from sitting
- A reported increase in training or change in surface
How does Jumper’s Knee feel?
Jumper’s Knee is characterised by specifically localised pain and tenderness at the bottom of the knee cap. The pain presents at this location as it is the site where your quadricep muscles (front of the thigh muscles) and tendon attach from the kneecap to the top of the shin. It is these muscles that are so important for accelerating and decelerating with running, jumping and landing.
Despite being a painful and limiting condition, however, many athletes are able to continue to participate in competitions and training with correct guidance and modifications to their activity load.
How To Prevent Knee Injuries in Basketball
When it comes to management programs for Jumper’s Knee and knee-related injuries in basketball, there are several key factors that can be implemented by the athlete, their trainer and their accredited Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist.
How can Physiotherapy help with knee injuries?
At Coast Sport, we see many knee-related injuries like Jumper’s Knee. Our experienced team is ready to assess and assist you with state of the art technology and evidence-based research to help you recover quickly and get back to your sport efficiently.
1. Load management
Often a key component to Jumper’s Knee rehabilitation is the increased load on the athlete’s knee which results in the irritation of the patella tendon.
Temporary reduction of non-critical jumping and landing, modified training duration or intensity and modified rest and recovery is usually recommended to aid in settling symptoms.
It Is important to note that complete rest is not recommended as this can contribute to deconditioning, which stunts the athlete’s rehabilitation back into peak performance. Total rest may also reduce the capacity of the aggravated tendon to adapt to the demands of the sport. As such, we encourage symptom-based, modified participation guided by the treating Physiotherapist, which often replaces time lost in training with specific tendon loading.
2. Tendon loading
Restoring strength and tolerance to heavy loads is the next most important factor for rehabilitating an aggravated knee and returning the athlete back to their sport and full performance.
Tendon loading strategies we utilise at Coast Sport include a variety of resistance based loading programs, of which eccentric, heavy slow resistance or isometric are seen to have a 50%–70% chance of resulting in pain and functional improvement.
As well as being helpful for settling an aggravated Jumper’s Knee, research suggests that consistent, heavy strength training for the major leg muscles is a helpful tool for preventing Jumper’s knee in athletes.
3. Manual therapy, taping and bracing
Often used alongside load management and tendon loading programs, manual therapy may aid in reducing symptom presentation and internal load on the injured knee.
Manual therapy can include massage, self-release and foam rolling, taping and bracing of the knee. Icing may also be a useful strategy if implemented immediately following activity, as this can assist with recovery and immediate pain management.
4. Movement control and general mobility
As Sports Physiotherapists, we can assess and address other secondary risk factors that may be playing a role in your Jumper’s Knee and tendon pain. These might include:
- Poor landing technique (i.e. stiff or unstable landing)
- Poor leg flexibility
- Muscle tightness
- Weakened leg and abdominal strength
- Decreased ankle range of motion (dorsiflexion), which can occur following an ankle injury and is particularly common among basketball players
How Long Does Jumper’s Knee Take to Heal?
Time to return to sport and performance can vary depending on the severity of pain, how long you have had your pain and the type and level of sport you are returning to.
Less limiting cases may resolve and return to sport in 3-6 weeks, whereas more severe and limiting cases may be much slower, taking up to 3+ months for a full return to performance.With this in mind, it’s imperative to consider how to prevent knee injuries in basketball and other jumping-related sports to give yourself the optimal chance of staying healthy and active.
Speak to a Physiotherapist Today
Considering that every tendon is different and not all Jumper’s Knee injuries present or respond the same, we recommend a comprehensive assessment and rehabilitation program prescribed by an accredited Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist.
With a thorough assessment and personalised program, Jumper’s Knees do settle and you can resume your sport at the required level. If you’re experiencing trouble settling or understanding your knee pain, get in touch with our friendly team to schedule an appointment or find out how we can further assist you and your training goals.
Burton, I. (2022). Interventions for prevention and in-season management of patellar tendinopathy in athletes: A scoping review. Physical Therapy in Sport.
Santana JA, Mabrouk A, Sherman Al. Jumpers Knee. [Updated 2022 Nov 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK532969/
Muaidi Q. I. (2020). Rehabilitation of patellar tendinopathy. Journal of musculoskeletal & neuronal interactions, 20(4), 535–540.