Context: Prior research has not established if overloading or underloading movement profiles are present in symptomatic and asymptomatic athletes with patellar tendon structural abnormality (PTA) compared to healthy athletes.

Objective: The purpose was to compare involved limb landing biomechanics between male athletes with and without patellar tendinopathy.

Design: Cross-sectional study

Setting: Laboratory

Patients or Other Participants: 43 males were grouped based on patellar tendon pain & ultrasound imaging of the proximal patellar tendon: symptomatic with PTA (SYM-PTA; n=13; 20±2yrs; 1.8±0.1m; 84±5kg), asymptomatic with PTA (ASYM-PTA; n=15; 21±2yrs; 1.8±0.1m; 82±13kg), and healthy control (CON; n=15; 20±2yrs; 1.8±0.1m; 79±12kg).

Main Outcome Measures: 3D biomechanics were collected during double-limb jump-landing. Kinematic (knee flexion angle (KF)) and kinetic (vertical ground reaction force (VGRF); internal knee extension moment (KEM); patellar tendon force (FPT)) variables were analyzed as continuous waveforms during the stance phase for the involved limb. Mean values were calculated for each 1% of stance, normalized over 202 data points (0–100%), and plotted with 95% confidence intervals. Statistical significance was defined as a lack of 95% CI overlap for ≥ 6 consecutive data points.

Results: SYM-PTA had lesser KF than CON throughout the stance phase. ASYM-PTA had lesser KF than CON in the early and late stance phase. SYM-PTA group had lesser KEM and FPT than CON in early stance, as well as ASYM-PTA in mid-stance.

Conclusions: Male athletes with SYM-PTA demonstrated a patellar tendon load-avoidance profile compared to ASYM-PTA and CON athletes. ASYM-PTA did not show evidence of overloading compared to CON. Our findings support the need for individualized treatments for athletes with tendinopathy to maximize load-capacity.

Trial Registry:ClinicalTrials.gov (#XXX).

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