If you love lunges but suffer from patellar tendon pain, you may need to start paying closer closer attention to the alignment of your knee. Proper alignment is important for everything you do, though, not just lunges. Also, make sure to increase repetitions and weight progressively, relative to your strength, size and activity level. This will help keep your lunge workout sustainable as well as injury- and pain-free.
Anatomy and Physiology of the Patellar Tendon
In layman terms the patella is the knee cap. Above the knee cap, sits the patellar tendon, also referred to as the quadriceps tendon. The patellar/quadriceps tendon is the site of insertion for all four of the quadriceps muscles: the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and vastus lateralis. Together they extend or straighten the knee joint. Because there are a total of four muscles inserting into the patellar tendon, the chances of overuse are quadrupled compared to a tendon associated with one muscle. If any of the quadriceps becomes aggravated, it can affect your patellar tendon.
Alignment of the Lunge
When practicing lunges, it is imperative to keep your knee behind your toes. To help you stay in alignment when performing a lunge, look down at your toes and make sure you can see them in front of your knee. If you cannot, move your knee back until your toes are visible. Another method is to perform your lunges with a mirror on one side. Look in the mirror and position your shin perpendicular to the floor; in other words, have it directly above your knee. Learning to align your ankle and knee will strengthen and protect your precious patellar tendon.
There are numerous types of lunges you can do in various directions. You can start with your feet together and step forward with your right foot. Then bring the right foot back to meet your left and repeat on the left side. You can also step to the side and backward. A common lunge practiced in yoga is Crescent Lunge. Stand with your feet together and step back with your left foot. Bend your front knee and raise your arms up. Hold for three to six breaths and repeat on the other side.
Patellar tendinitis is a chronic knee injury. It manifests from overuse of the quadriceps muscles or progressing your workout too aggressively and too quickly. It is associated with muscle fatigue, muscle weakness, restricted range of motion and referred pain. An excellent form of treatment is myofascial release. This can be performed in the comfort of your own home by rolling your quadriceps out on a foam roller, seeing your favorite bodyworker or stretching in a warm room. Another simple remedy is the application of heat to your quadriceps before your workout, then ice to your knees after it.
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