Exercises for Patellar Tendinitis

Patellar tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon that connects your thigh muscle (quadriceps) to your shinbone. This allows the contraction of your quadriceps to move your lower leg forward. At times, the patellar tendon can become injured, most commonly in athletes. Medline Plus, a website of the National Institutes of Health, states that an injured tendon will be painful, tender and swollen. Surgery is rarely needed to treat patellar tendinitis; therefore, most treatments begin with ice, over-the-counter medications and light exercise, states the Mayo Clinic.

Seated Leg Raise

The seated leg raise is an exercise that you should do once your pain from patellar tendinitis becomes tolerable. This exercise will help you to strengthen your quadriceps muscle and patellar tendon. Strengthening your quadriceps will help heal tendinitis and prevent future flare-ups.

To perform, sit on the floor with both legs straight. Next, slightly lean back on your hands. Then, slowly lift the injured leg for 5 seconds to 1 to 2 feet from the ground. Hold for 3 seconds. Take 5 seconds to lower the leg to the floor. Repeat 10 to 15 times. Be sure to perform this exercise on the other leg to prevent tendinitis.


You should perform squats once your tendinitis pain has become tolerable and there is no further inflammation. Squats will strengthen all of the muscles that support your knee including your quadriceps and hamstrings. These stronger muscles will then work together to support your knee joint and take the strain off the patellar tendon.

To perform, stand with your feet 12-inches apart in front of a couch or chair with your back facing it. Next, stretch your arms out in front of you. Bend your knees and lower your body into a squatting position. Try to barely touch the couch or chair with your glutes (bottom). Hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Stand back up. Repeat this exercise as tolerated, or up to 25 times to increase knee joint strength.

Leg Extensions

Performing leg extensions will also help to strengthen your quadriceps and your patellar tendon. Avoid using heavy weight while doing leg extensions because heavy weight can further aggravate your symptoms. Be sure to perform each movement slowly.

For this exercise you will need a leg extension machine, than can be found in most gyms. Sit on the exercise equipment and make sure your knees are just over the edge of the chair. Choose a light weight that with which you can perform 15 to 20 reps. Place your feet behind the pads and slowly kick your lower leg out so that your leg becomes nearly straight. Hold for 3 seconds. Slowly bring your leg back to the starting position without allowing the weight that you are using to touch the reserve weight. Perform leg extensions no more than three times per week.

About this Author

Jacques Courseault, M.D., began writing professionally in 2007. He is currently the fitness editor for Dr.Gourmet.com, founder and writer of ExerciseMenu.com, and co-founder of Don’t Weight to Lose. He is a resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Dr. Courseault received his bachelor’s degree in psychology at Tulane University, and is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine.