I first came to know about this disease when I got it. It’s called “jumper’s knee” and affects 20% of basketball players, as well as those playing other sports involving jumping – like volleyball. In medical parlance it is known as “patellar tendonitis”. Vince Carter and Dwayne Wade are noted sufferers of this injury, so it was a (un)pleasant surprise when my name was added to this hi-flier list. Sounds like something you should know? Then read on…
As the name suggests, “jumper’s knee” makes the process of jumping or landing extremely painful, the latter particularly so.
The major muscle groups in the leg that are involved in the act of jumping are the quadriceps (consisting of four muscles, hence the name), hamstrings and calf muscles. Muscle balance is vital for an athlete as it ensures that all muscle groups are equally employed in any physical activity. “Muscle imbalance” is caused when few of the muscle groups are stronger than the others. Imbalance can occur in the following ways:
- when one side of the body is worked out more that the other, or
- when antagonistic muscles are disproportionately strengthened (for example the quadriceps and hamstrings are antagonistic muscles with the quads supposed to be 25% stronger than the hamstrings)
Such imbalance is a problem as it results in over use of certain muscle groups leading to subsequent wear and tear.
Advises Dr. R Arivazhagan, M.P.T (Sports) and Consultant Physical Therapist at HOSMAT, Bangalore, “While working out your muscles- both strength and flexibility have to be equally stressed upon. ” Dr. Arivazhagan surely knows what he talking about, having helped out legends like Rahul Dravid, who is renowned for his endurance as much as his batting finesse.
Flexible muscles are those which are able to react quickly to any sudden movement. It goes without saying that such movements are inherent in basketball which mandate explosiveness in all directions (laterally, back and forth and upwards).
Indians seem especially susceptible to jumper’s knee due to over exposure to outdoor concrete courts (which are terrible for the knees) for many years. Also most Indian athletes are under informed about the precautions to take vis-à-vis their body. “Prevention is better than cure” may be a way of life for most western athletes, but back home, sportspeople often play for many months through pain, before an affliction is diagnosed correctly. Development of Sports medicine as a distinct practice in India is still at a nascent stage. Physiotherapy is needed not just at the professional level, but right from the early school tournaments.
Compared to other professions, the career of a sportsperson is very short. It becomes imperative then that we don’t make it shorter because of career threatening injuries.
Think you have jumper’s knee? Please check out the following links: