The Quadricep Tendon and the NBA.


With Tony Parker leaving the Spurs after an impressive career to head to the Charlotte Hornets, we figured we would dive into his injury history. Parker’s comments about his former teammate Kawhi Leonard have been all over the internet since the beginning of the season! If you haven’t heard, Parker was comparing his quadricep tendon rupture to Kawhi’s quadricep tendinopathy, and how Parker’s injury was significantly worse. Our quadricep specialists want to jump in with some facts about the quadricep tendon and the two injuries mentioned.

The quad, which is short for quadricep, is composed of four muscles: the rectus femoris, the vastus mediallis, vastus intermedius, and the vastus laterallis. These fibers not only extend the knee, but they also maintain the alignment of the patella (knee cap).

The quad tendon is a ligament that connects your quad to the top part of your kneecap. When this tendon is torn or ruptured, it is impossible to extend the leg. The quad is a vital part of the extensor mechanism of the knee, with the four muscles acting together all for the purpose of extension. Why this is important for a basketball player is because the sport involves repetitive jumping and landing. Without a functional quad, athletes like Tony Parker aren’t able to generate the force needed to extend the leg when they are attempting a shot or a rebound.

Check out this video below of Dr. Kellen Scantlebury, Doctor of Physical Therapy, demonstrating the knee extensor mechanism!

Quad tendon ruptures are painful injuries that are less common than patella tendon ruptures, especially in younger athletes. A rupture (tear) of the tendon is often caused by weakness of the quad muscle, and may be due to diminished circulation in the area. Treatment for complete quad tendon ruptures must be surgical to restore function, and are usually season ending injuries for an NBA athlete.

Following surgery for a quad tendon rupture, there is a long road of rehab to get back on to the court. In total, it takes anywhere from 12 to 18 weeks to start non-contact drills.

Check out these return-to-sport exercises following knee surgery!

Quad tendon tears are one of the most devastating injuries to the knee, and are considered far worse than a quad tendon strain. The rehab process is much longer and the fact that knee surgery is involved elevates this injury in significance! Sorry Kawhi, I think Tony’s got you here! If you have any questions about knee pain or getting back to playing your sport pain free, give our team in Brooklyn and Manhattan a call today for a free phone consultation!

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