The traditional prescription for Osgood-Schlatter Disease is rest, but treating Osgood knee pain doesn’t have to be a waiting game. However, certain strength exercises, performed correctly and in the correct volumes, are an integral part of getting you back to playing sport pain-free and feeling stronger, faster, and more resilient than ever before.
Why strength exercises are important in treating Osgood Schlatter Disease
When we experience pain and injury, the muscles surrounding the injured site become reflexively inhibited as a protective mechanism. The body’s intention is to shut down the muscles to protect and promote recovery. With knee pain like Osgood Schlatter Disease, the muscle group affected most are the the Quads - a big, powerful muscle group on the front of the thigh crucial in running and jumping, and whose job it is to support and de-load the knee.
So as Osgood knee pain persists, the quads remain inhibited and gradually become weak and even atrophy (shrink in size). As a result, the tendons and joints must take more of the forces and loads we experience during sport and daily life, making the Osgood pain even worse.
But with well chosen exercises and a gradual, strategic progression plan, we can re-activate the quad muscles, building the strength and size to get them doing their job again - absorbing force, protecting the knee, and ultimately reducing pain.
The Best Osgood-Schlatters Disease Exercises
Knee Isometrics for Osgood Schlatters
Isometric holds (or ‘Isos’) are incredibly effective at settling down sore knees and strengthening the muscles required to protect and support the knee. We’ve seen athletes drop from a 7/10 on the pain scale, to 0/10 in 5 minutes with isometrics.
Isometrics are a particularly great starting exercise for children (or adults) suffering from Osgood Schlatter Disease because they load the quad muscles without moving the knee through uncomfortable ranges of movement.
Despite many common gym myths, we do not need full ranges of motion to build strength in a muscle group. Isometric holds are also effective because they take advantage of a response to training called mechanotransduction, which is the tendon's way of responding to stimulus to heal the tendon tissue, begin treating the Osgood Schlatter pain and stop the cycle of pain and inhibited muscles.
So, we get a few benefits:
- Pain relief and healing
- Activation and strengthening of the quads
TIP: We’ve found close to end-range extensions to be most effective, as demonstrated below.
Shallow Squats for Osgood Schlatters
Squatting, when performed correctly, is one of the most important strength movements for helping you beat Osgood Schlatters.
Shallow squats have many benefits but the key one is that they are a re-patterning exercise that help athletes switch from a knee dominant movement pattern (which overloads the knee) to a glute dominant pattern, which is better for your knee and more athletic. This translates to huge improvements in the jumping and landing technique.
The typical problem we see with squatting is that almost everyone performs them incorrectly; too deep, too wide, too knee dominant, caving in at the knees, bent and twisted spines. It can be a mess.
That’s why starting shallow and focusing on great technique with a smooth pattern, and never squat through pain.
These are just two of the exercises that we include in our online, seven-week Osgood Schlatter Disease Treatment Program. The exercises prescribed in the program are safe, effective and scientifically proven to be reduce knee pain and heal Osgood Schlatter Disease. And the best bit yet, is that they have the added benefit of making athletes stronger, faster and more resistant to future injuries.
Osgood Strength Training Myths:
I want to cover the most common question people have when it comes to strength training exercises for Osgood Schlatters, especially when being done by children and teenagers.
Does weight training stunt growth?
Never has a myth been more harmful to your chances of beating Osgood Schlatters!
One of the most common arguments we hear against strength training in children and adolescents is that the intensity of the lifting is too great, and their young developing bodies will not be able to tolerate the stress on their growth plates.
This myth is actually born out of some old research that looked at explosive Olympic Weightlifting in adolescents. While that study did show young weightlifters created damage to their growth plates, this is an extreme form of weight training, and it is not the style of weight training used in our program The Secret to Curing Osgood Schlatters.
The body of scientific evidence shows this is simply not the case. In fact, with age-appropriate training, the evidence points towards increased strength, lower rates of sports-related injury, increased bone strength index (BSI), decreased risk of fracture, and improved self-esteem.
Lifting weights won’t stunt the growth of children and teenagers – when programming in an age appropriate way. with over 20+ years of coaching experience and more than 3,000 athletes having successfully completed our online program, our first-hand evidence backs this up.
When used correctly and scaled for intensity and complexity, performing strength training movements can have the exact opposite effect than seen in the weight lifting study.
We talk more about this myth and where it came from in episode 54 of our Podcast.
One of the most common arguments we hear against strength training in children and adolescents is that the intensity of the lifting is too great, and their young developing bodies will not be able to tolerate the stress on their growth plates. Given sprinting, jumping and landing can put as much as 6-8x bodyweight in forces this far outweighs the amount of load that is used during strength training.
Strength training has another added benefit, increased movement skill. Learning great shapes and patterns with body weight, or a small amount of external load will help build robust and strong bodies capable of moving better in sport, and that can better cope with sporting demands.
Throughout our Osgood Schlatters treatment program, we utilise bodyweight movements and targeted exercises with no more than 5kg (12lbs) of external load to develop strength in the lower body and core, targeting the muscles that support and stabilise the knee and lower leg.
Now is the perfect time to start strength training.
If you are currently experiencing Osgood pain, now is the perfect time to get started with sensible strength training.
Yes, even if you are currently experiencing knee pain!
When done correctly, certain strength training exercises can actually help relieve your knee pain while also building strength and endurance in the muscles. These exercises form the foundations of our seven-week Osgood treatment program.
While you are taking some relative rest from sporting loads, use that spare time to start performing regular strength exercises to build the muscles and tendons of the lower body, helping relieve your pain and preparing you to return to full activity levels.
Professional support is available to treat your Osgood
To make your strength training as effective as possible, you will need guidance on which exercises to do, how to perform them correctly and how many reps to do each week.
This is why we have built a seven-week treatment program that takes you every step of the way to treating your Osgood Schlatters pain now, and forever. Our program includes video demonstrations, an exercise workbook, pain log, and includes expert coaches and a Facebook support group to support you every step of the way through your treatment journey.