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Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain can be caused by multiple different conditions. It could be a result of muscle imbalance, ligament injuries, overuse, or patella abnormalities. Pain is often experienced when flexing or extending your knee, so with running, going down stairs, or even sitting for long periods of time. It can be difficult to identify the cause of the knee pain because of the variance in symptoms, pain, and underlying factors. Anterior knee pain is a symptom not an injury or diagnosis. This is why it is important to find help from a musculoskeletal professional like a physical therapist.


What causes it?

  • Patella abnormalities

  • Extensor mechanism when flexing and extending your knee

  • Weak quadriceps (especially with eccentric contractions)

  • Muscle imbalance in your quadriceps (vastas medialis is weak in comparison to vastas lateralis)

  • Overuse

  • Low back and hip disorders

How is it treated?

  • Non-operative treatment

  • Mangement of pain and swelling

  • Muscle strengthening of the vastas medialis and hip flip flexors

  • Coordinating movements of walking to ensure proper biomechanics then progress to running

  • Functional exercises

  • Stretching

Exercises for Anterior Knee Pain

  • Step downs

Seems backward to do a step down when it hurts to go downstairs right?


Well research shows the best way to treat tendinopathy is eccentric movements (slowly lowering). A step down will allow your quad tendon and patellar tendon to lengthen while they strengthen, increasing your tolerance and decreasing your pain while walking down steps.


Start lower and work your way up to a higher and higher step.

  • Eccentric knee extensions


  • Knees over toes lunges


  • Single leg stance KB passes


  • Valgus split squats


Works Cited:


Werner S. Anterior knee pain: an update of physical therapy. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2014 Oct;22(10):2286-94. doi: 10.1007/s00167-014-3150-y. Epub 2014 Jul 6. PMID: 24997734.


“Anterior Knee Pain.” Physiopedia, https://www.physio-pedia.com/Anterior_Knee_Pain?utm_source=physiopedia&utm_medium=search&utm_campaign=ongoing_internal.


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