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Jumping Mechanics and Patellar Tendinopathy: What it is, Why it Matters

Studies have extensively analyzed the possible link between jumping and landing mechanics with overuse injuries of the lower extremity, specifically the patellar tendon (more commonly known as jumper’s knee). Factors that have shown a relationship to patellar tendinopathy include:

  • Rate of force development as it relates to knee extensor moment/torque during the eccentric phases of both take-off and landing
  • Knee angular velocity during eccentric phases of both take-off and landing
  • Ankle and knee flexion at the time of initial ground contact upon landing
  • Ankle, knee and hip range of motion during the landing (from initial ground contact to the time of peak vertical ground reaction force)

The combination of smaller flexion range of motion of the lower body joints (stiff landing), higher moment/torque at the knee, and higher knee angular velocities are risk factors for patellar tendinopathy, as well as predictors of current or previous patellar injury.  The overuse or microtrauma of the patellar tendon is thought to mostly occur in the eccentric phases of the jump, where the elongation of the tendon faces higher loads and the minor damage becomes cumulative due to high repetition and a lack of rest to allow for repair. Thus, training intensity and frequency play a significant role in the development of any overuse injury.

Using Gears Sports 3D motion and force plate analysis, kinetic and kinematic red flags can be identified.  This valuable data gives trainers, coaches and therapists an incredible tool to ensure the long-term health and performance of their athletes by having access to the underlying movement mechanics as the athlete executes their sport-specific skill in a game-like setting.


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