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Eccentric Strength Can Help Prevent Patellar Tendonitis

One of the best ways to prevent patellar tendonitis is to make eccentric strengthening a mandatory part of your soccer fitness or injury prevention program. This holds true, especially for younger soccer athletes that are going through their growth spurts and at the same time playing an enormous amount of soccer with very little rest. These athletes can become easily susceptible to overuse injury

A benefit of eccentric strengthening is that it can develop new collagen within the connective tissues. This will allow your knee to tolerate the stress that is constantly put on it while you're training. Another benefit of eccentric strengthening is that it will allow you to focus on strengthening your patellar tendon while staying clear of the overuse movements that could potentially inflame your knee. 

Keep in mind that eccentric strengthening involves the lengthening of muscle fibers while the muscle is still contracting. In other words, you are performing a "negative" movement in an exercise. So use caution. Incorrect form can easily inflame your knee.  While there are many ways you can incorporate eccentric strengthening, start first by using the squat. Here's how it works:

  1. Set up the way you would normally do a regular body weight squat. Keep your feet sholder width apart, with feet pointed forward.
  2. As you squat down, deliberately slow your movement, taking 5 to 7 seconds to get your quads parallel to the ground. 
  3. Make sure you keep your butt back and chest forward. Don't let your knees go past your toes. 
  4. Return to the starting position at your normal pace, then repeat. 

Perform 2-3 sets of 10 reps. The eccentric part of this exercise is going to be challenging enough. So keep the weight light if you decide to add more resistance. 

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