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Can Knee Straps Decrease Patellar Tendonitis?

The research seems to indicate so. Studies have emerged supporting the use of patellar tendon knee straps to reduce patellar tendonitis. 
 
Patellar tendonitis or jumpers knee as is often termed, occurs when the patellar tendon (the tendon that runs from your knee cap and attaches several centimeters below the knee), becomes inflamed either due to repetitive stress from running and jumping activities, or from a lack of strength in the quadriceps muscles[1]. And with repetitive motions of the knee that often occur on the field, one can tell how easy it would be for a soccer player to get some form of tendonitis. 
 
Though the signs and symptoms can be fairly tolerable, the nature of patellar tendonitis can significantly hinder performance and prevent a soccer player from performing at their best. As such, soccer players have gone to the use of patellar tendon knee straps to decrease pain. However, much of the evidence has been anecdotal, making it unclear as to how the knee strap actually decreases pain.
 
Analysis supports it
In a computational analysis by Lavagnino et al, clinicians sought to determine if the use of patellar tendon straps reduced patellar tendon strain by altering the mechanics of the knee during jumping and landing movements. Twenty adult males had x-rays taken of their knees with and without patellar tendon straps at certain ranges of motion of the knee. Measurements of the length of the patellar tendon were taken to determine the amount of strain placed on the knee during a jumping movement. 
The results showed that the patellar tendon straps decreased the amount of strain on the knee by altering the length of the tendon as well as its angle of insertion. In simple terms, the patellar tendon knee strap changes the way the tendon inserts to the shin. Thus, researchers concluded that patellar tendon straps can limit the stress placed on the knee and decrease patellar tendon strain [2].
 
Which is the best strap to use?
Amidst the wide array of patellar tendon straps, good ones are easy to find at almost any sporting goods store and are relatively inexpensive. The most popular straps are from Don Joy or Cho-Pat. While most brands are acceptable, the main thing a soccer player should look for, is a patellar tendon strap that is adjustable and that you can control yourself [3].
 
There is also the cheaper way
If you choose not to buy a strap, you can go the old fashioned way, which is to use pre wrap and roll into a strap. Many soccer players do this and it is often the cheapest way to accomplish the same thing. However, it is a little more difficult to adjust to your knees. 
 
My recommendation
In spite of the new research, I still strongly recommend that you participate in a thorough sports rehabilitation program by a certified athletic trainer or physical therapist if you so happen to have patellar tendoniits. While the research proves positive for patelallar tendon straps, it should be used as a supplement to your overall program or training. The fact of the matter is that it is still no substitute for proper training and sports rehab. 
 
References
1. Patellar Tendonitis or Patellar Tendinopathy, UC San Diego Sports Medicine. http://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/surgery/ortho/areas-expertise/sports-medicine/conditions/knee/Pages/patellar-tendonitis.aspx
2. Lavagnino, Michael et al, Infrapatellar Straps Decrease Patellar Tendon Strain at the Site of the Jumper’s Knee LesionA Computational Analysis Based on Radiographic Measurements. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach May/June 2011 vol. 3 no. 3 296-302
3.Reinold, Mike. Patellar Tendon Straps Decrease Patellar Tendonitis and Patellar Tendon Strain. MikeReinold.com. http://www.mikereinold.com/2011/06/patellar-tendon-straps-decrease-patellar-tendonitis-and-patellar-tendon-strain.html

 

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