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I have this problem. Since I'm a dancer, but I'm also a tad bit overweight, the strain on my knee joints and ligaments is a little bit bigger than it should be. So, a while ago I started feeling pain in Patellar ligament, or to be more specific, in the place where it connects to the bone. The doc told me to abstain from dancing for a while, while I reduce my weight, but this is not possible, since a competition is coming up. Some elastic binding do help with the pain. But I also think, that a possible cause for this pain is not stretching the ligament enough before a practice, so my question is this:

How do I warm up my Patellar ligament? What are some stretching exercises for this, without a lot of equipment? I have a ballet bar, a floor, and some people, that can help me stretch, and that is about it.

Also, it's not like I haven't tried to find something for this, I just can't think of anything.

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

While there are several injuries related to the patellar tendon, the most likely one is that you have a Jumper's knee (basically it's just inflamed), which needs rest to recover like everybody sensible will tell you.

However, there are several things you can or should do to prevent the injury from returning:

  • train the balance of your lower limbs. While you would assume you only have to strengthen your knee because that's where the problem is, it's more likely your knee is overcompensating for another unstable joint. Doing either squats or yoga, require you to built up allround stability and will improve your balance.

  • increase your hips range of motion. Assuming you're a programmer, you probably sit all day. This means your hip joint spends most of its time in a flexed position, rather than stretched. If you then start to dance and try to stretch your hip, the quadriceps resist because its not used to it. This is because your quadriceps is (partially) bi-articular which means it runs over both your hip and your knee and is attached to your patella. Straining this muscle means you're also straining your tendon. So doing some exercises (again yoga perhaps) to increase the range of motion of your hip will hopefully improve your knee as well.

  • try working on your jumping technique. With some help from Google I found you liked Folk dancing, which means your hopping/jumping quite a lot. You can imagine that this puts quite some strain on your knee. Try to work on landing 'softer' and/or train your muscles more with squats or lunches to resist these loads better.

  • change your footwear. Perhaps you don't have much choice, given the clothing restrictions during dancing, but consider wearing better shoes or getting a pair of orthotics. I'm suspecting you have quite some pronation in your ankle joint, which coupled with the strain of dancing can cause internal rotation of your shank. Whilst this won't 'solve' your problem, at least it can help prevent the problem from getting worse or returning faster.

Note that these are all just general guidelines and might not give the best results. In the end, you will have to either loose more weight or increase your strength and give your knee time to recover (which means it shouldn't hurt any more during working out). Most of my advice requires you to work out to strengthen your knee, which you obviously can't do while it's hurt. The goal of these exercises however, is also to teach you how to use your knee the right way so that hopefully it won't come back anymore.

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If you continue to dance against your doctor's advice, then you can expect to have more problems than you have now. The only way to prevent further injury to an already injured ligament is to rest it for enough of a period of time to fully heal. No amount of stretching or warming up first will prevent further or more permanent damage to an already injured ligament. Stop using it until your doctor says otherwise.

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What the doc said was, that i should not dance for a month at least. A month gone, but almost no improvement has been there. Ehh... this seems to be the case, when something on enjoys must be given up for health. –  Janis Peisenieks Mar 18 '11 at 14:19
    
I know how it feels to have to quit exercising for an injury, but you have to do it. Did you actually take a month off from dancing and let your knee just rest? –  Nathan Wheeler Mar 18 '11 at 15:06
    
Yes, I did. Except I replaced dancing with more gym, while I was resting. Looking back, seems the dumbest thing I've done in a while... –  Janis Peisenieks Mar 18 '11 at 16:27
    
@Janis Peisenieks - yeah... rest means complete rest, not switch workouts around. –  Nathan Wheeler Mar 18 '11 at 17:01
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