How To Eliminate Osgood-Shlatters Pain

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Ruby, one of our gymnasts, asked us this questions:

I have Osgood Schlatters, and while treatments are all over the internet, I was wondering if you could give me some advice from a gymnast perspective?

Ruby, we’d be incredibly happy to give you the Gymnast Care perspective and help walk you through why it happens, and what you can do about it.

Just like Sever’s Disease, Osgood-Schlatters disease is an irritation of the growth plate (apophysitis for all you medical nerds out there!) at the insertion of the quadriceps muscle (the muscle located on the front of your thigh).

Big deal right?  More medical mumbo jumbo!

Well, it’s a big deal because females are 4-8 times more likely to suffer a non-contact ACL (ligament of the knee) injury and one of the major reasons is because females are prone to overusing their quadriceps muscles.

This is the same reason gymnasts get Osgood-Schlatters Disease!

Most ACL injuries occur after puberty when the growth plates have fused, but before puberty, the number one result of excessive quadriceps muscles involvement is overuse knee issues including Osgood-Schlatters, jumper’s knee, and Sinding-Larsen-Johansen Syndrome (irritation of the growth plate in the patella or knee cap).

So to me, overusing the quads is not just causing knee pain in our young, growing athletes, IT’S A PRECURSOR TO SERIOUS KNEE INJURIES once the growth plates have fused.

Osgood-Schlatter’s is a big red flag and should be addressed.

Remember also, that most non-contact knee injuries occur during the landing/planting phase of sports, and landing properly is crucial to protecting the female knee.

So here’s three things you can do to decrease the effects of Osgood-Schlatters Disease and get rid of it once and for all:

  1. KT Tape is the most effective pain reliever of Osggod-Schlatters I have ever seen and I wish I would have had it as a kid! I’ve seen athletes suffer from knee pain for 4 years, put KT Tape on and the pain instantly go away.  The athletes that suffer from knee pain call it magic tape, because of how great it works.
  2. Use your RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elivation) principles to relieve the pain once practice is over.  Compression is being shown as one of the greatest deterrents to irritation and increases blood supply to damaged tissue.  It’s as easy as using an ace bandage wrap.
  3. Learn to land and jump, utilizing the proper quad-to-hamstring muscle relation, activating the gluteus maximus muscle to properly absorb the landing forces through muscles instead of through your knee.

And number 3 is by far the most important thing you can do to increase your longevity in gymnastics.  You will become more graceful, incredibly powerful, and at the same time reducing the effects of 95% of the most common gymnastics injuries.

Check out this video of landing mechanics from a friend of mine, Dave Quammen.  Dave is a Certified Athletic Trainer, the ATC for the US Men’s Handball Team, and is a contributor at The Olympic Training Center.  He’s also done multiple research projects on protecting the female lower extremity, and has been published in The American Journal of Athletic Training.  Here it is:

It’s not easy, but I’ve been teaching these methods to young athletes and have seen amazing results.  It’s not easy because you’ll be using new muscles and landing in the correct position for power.

Here’s the progression:

  • Learn to squat properly, because the squat teaches you to use the right muscles during landing. [Learn to Squat Video from Gymnast Care]
  • Landing starts with Toe-Ball-Heel and immediately going into a mini-squat [Learn the Gymnast Care Toe-Down-Landing Technique]
  • Stress the landing through drills, making them more and more difficult as the gymnast masters each progressive skill…remember, you have to master the easier before moving to the more difficult.  [Jump off Mat] [Off-Dow-Up] [Up-Down-Up]

To go along with this, we like to promote a strong, well balanced core.  We know most gymnasts are great at crunches, but they’re not strong when their core is elongated during proper landing technique.  

Start simple with your young gymnast on their backs, getting them to keep hips flat, shoulders down, and have them tighten their core, holding, while taking deep breaths.  Then stress this position…check out this video going over our three basic exercise that we teach at clinics: [Basic Core Video for Clinics]

Getting the right nutrition always helps and you can check this out over at GymnastCare.com/Nutrition.  So many good posts on keeping your athlete safe from injury through nutrition.

We love answering questions for our gymnasts and their parents.  If you have a question that you want answered, leave us a message below, or contact us through our Contact Page.

Thanks again and we’ll see you in the gym!.

Dr. Joshua Eldridge

About Dr. Joshua Eldridge

Dr. Joshua Eldridge has specialized in protecting gymnasts from injury. He is the inventor of The X Brace, and has developed a treatment protocol for Sever's disease and heel pain that has helped thousands of gymnasts throughout the world. Dr. Eldridge brings practical, easy injury care and prevention that can be done at home.