Best 5 exercises for Osgood-Schlatter Disease

Osgood Schlatter Disease is a known condition in the adolescent athletic population. It is also known as osteochondrosis and presents most commonly in sports such as basketball, football, athletics and volleyball. Most patients seen at Surrey Physio present with a gradual onset of pain at the top of the shin bone just below the knee on a bony part called the tibial tuberosity.

The knee joint is made of three bones the thigh bone, the shin bone and the knee cap. The muscles that control knee movement are the hamstrings and quadriceps. The quadriceps connects to a tendon called the quadriceps tendon which passes over the knee cap into the patella tendon. The patella tendon attaches to this boney prominence called the tibial tuberosity (growth plate). It is at this sight where most athletes complain of pain and tenderness when experiencing Osgood-Schlatter’s.

It can occur due to repetitive strain and small damage due to force applied from the patella tendon at the tibial tuberosity. It is mostly present in adolescent athletes aged between 10 to 15 years for males and 8- 13 years for females. This condition is more common in males who participate in running, jumping or kicking sports. This is because the bones of teenage athletes are still not fully matured and softer than a full adults bone structure. Therefore, the attachment point for the patella tendon can expose weakness in the bone. As young athletes continue to use the quadricep, pressure can cause a traction of the bone at the tibial tuberosity presenting as severe pain below the kneecap.

Most athletes we see at Surrey Physio typically present with pain at the front of the knee in one or both knees. Inflammation and swelling in some cases is present with a description of a dull ache localised under the knee. The onset of pain is usually insidious and improves with rest. Some patients will notice a visible bony lump and tenderness around the site. They may feel pain when resistance is placed against their leg when kicking, running, squatting or jumping.

This condition mostly improves with time and is dependent on the bone being fully developed. It can last for up to 2 years; however, some cases have been known to continue into adulthood. Treatment includes rest and activity modification from aggravating factors. Engaging in strengthening and stretching the quadriceps and hamstring muscles can help with symptoms. At Surrey Physio we have a team of physiotherapist and osteopaths who are trained in dealing with such conditions. We will look at your daily activities and examine your knee to best provide a personal program to help with your symptoms.

Some tips recommended to help with the symptoms are:

Rest: Reduce activity levels. Initially reduce by around 20%, and reduce further if symptoms persist. Try to identify which activities are causing your symptoms to flare up. Minimise these until you can recover.

Ice: Ice is a great way to calm down inflammation and reduce pain. Use an ice pack for 10 -15 mins at a time. Do not use ice directly on the skin.

Pain relief: you may not want to give kids painkillers or anti-inflammatories and an ice bag may work better. However, paracetamol at low dosages may help.

Protection: It is important you try to minimise impact to that area of the knee. You can wear knee pads if appropriate to minimise further discomfort if you are in a sport where you could hit your knee, for example sailing or skateboarding.

Exercise: Although one of the recommendations is to reduce sports/exercise, it is important to specifically exercise the muscles that surround the knee. At Surrey Physio we have come up with our top 5 exercises we think could help you. Give them a go!!

Quadriceps stretch

Lie on your side, and pull your heel towards your bottom to feel a stretch to thee quadricep muscle group at the front of your thigh. You may want to hold on to your knee of your bottom leg to give you extra support (especially useful if you are prone to back pain).

Try 3 sets holding the stretch for 30s

Hamstring stretch

Sit down on the floor, and place one leg over your other leg. Lean forwards gently and run your hands along your thighs, and as you come to your end of range you should feel a stretch to the back of your thigh (hamstring muscles). The stretch will feel stronger on the back leg. Hold the stretch. After the stretch, come up to a straight position.

Try 3 sets holding the stretch for 30s

Side Walk with Band

Wrap a band around the lower part of your legs, above your ankles. Step to one side and repeat as required. You can repeat both sides if required.

Try 3 sets with 20 reps in total

Bridge basic

Lie flat on your back, with your knees bent, squeeze your bottom muscles and lift your body upwards. Keep your arms by your side and use them to help you balance. Make sure you maintain good posture (do not over-arch your lower back) and contract the deep abdominal muscles by squeezing your tummy towards your spine. This exercise helps to strengthen the abdominal, lower back, gluteal and hamstring muscles.

Try 4 sets with 12 reps

Sit-down chair squat

Stand up, and position yourself in front of a chair or stool. Bend your knees to go into a squat position, and touch your butt on the chair. Then, push up and go into the standing position. Throughout the exercise, keep your knee in-line with your foot, do not let your knee drift outwards or inwards. Also keep your hips and pelvis level as you squat, so you go down in a straight line. Be careful not to slump forwards as you squat, maintain good posture.

Try 4 sets with 12 reps

If you are experiencing pain or swelling in your knee joint, it is important to see us in clinic. This is often the quickest way to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. If you are unsure, see your GP as an alternative. At Surrey Physio we ensure high quality care and a personalised approach to treating this condition. We will conduct a thorough examination and discuss your goals to quickly get you back to what you like doing best.

(Therapists: if you are reading this page, these videos are provided by Rehab My Patient – the best exercise prescription software for therapists to prescribe exercises Free trial available on their website. Patients: If you are a patient needing advice or a course of treatment, call Surrey Physio to book a telephone/video consultation with one of our expert physios or osteopaths, or book in face-to-face for an appointment. You can call us on 0208 685 6930 or book online by clicking the link at the top of the page).