What is a Patellar Tendon Strap and Should I be Wearing One?
You’ve seen them out on your morning runs, passed people wearing them running your last half marathon, and on sale at the latest running expo. It’s a small black (or brightly colored) strap situated right below the kneecap…so what is it?
As a seasoned Athletic Trainer and veteran Expo Vender, I’ve been asked “what is that thing, do I need one?”, more times than I can count.
- Do you have a sore, achy front of your knee?
- Pain inferior (below) to your kneecap?
- Does pain increase with going downhill or downstairs?
- Does the pain sometimes lessen or subside after you get warmed up
If you said yes to any of the above questions, then you mostly likely suffer from Patellofemoral pain or more specifically Patellar Tendonitis.
There are a couple options for those with Patellofemoral Issues:
- Physical Therapy or Sports Medicine Rehabilitation – flexibility, strengthening, and functional exercise
- Bracing – more specifically a patellar strap
Of the three, I recommend functional exercise and supplemental bracing. Along with specific strengthening, movement, and stretching, a patellar tendon strap is crucial to the healing process and gets you back to action much quicker.
How the patellar tendon strap works:
One applies the strap around the knee just below the kneecap but above the bump in the shin (tibial tuberocity) right over the patellar tendon. It should be snug, but not too loose where it’s falling off or too tight cutting off circulation.
There is a pad built into the strap that applies a counter pressure to the patellar tendon to both reduce pain and disperse pressure across a larger area also reducing the pain and pressure occurring underneath the kneecap inside the knee. In addition to the counter compression, another benefit to a patellar strap is a proprioceptive effect on the knee. It provides feedback to the brain to help the muscles to support the knee.
There are dozens of braces out there to choose from, and it can be very confusing on which product to buy. The highest quality product out there is the JK Band made by Zamst. With its easy application, high density foam pad, and low profile material makes it the best bang for your buck!
Jessica M. Thomas MS, ATC