What is patellar tendonitis, how can a low-impact sport like cycling cause it and what can I do to prevent a future flare up?
Patellar tendonitis is simply inflammation in the patellar tendon, which connects the bottom of your patella to your tibia (kneecap to shinbone). While activities such as running or jumping are more commonly associated with patellar tendonitis, knee pain is the most common ailment experienced by cyclists due to the repetitive knee motion (just 1 minute of cycling = approximately 60-90 revolutions). Multiple factors such as muscle imbalances, having the seat too low or too far forward, and improper training can all trigger symptoms. In order to prevent future flare ups, a novice rider should focus on stretching the muscles around the knee (hamstrings, quadriceps, calf, etc), strengthening the muscles that dynamically stabilize the patellofemoral joint (hips, glutes, and quadriceps), and gradually increasing your mileage to allow your body to adapt to the increased demands. A visit to your local bike shop for a professional fitting may also be warranted to help avoid future injuries and increase the comfort of your ride.