The “Candidates’ Curse:” Patellar Tendinitis
Many candidates get patellar tendinitis, “jumper’s knee” or runners knee at OCS or while preparing for it. If you are truly injured in your preparation for OCS, you first need to be honest and open with your OSO. If you shouldn’t get sent to OCS, but attempt to “sneak” in, they will find your injury during medical inprocessing or the initial PFT, and you will be sent home. It will be much harder to re-attend then if you had just been honest up front.
According to the Mayo Clinic, patellar tendinitis “affects the tendon connecting your kneecap (patella) to your shinbone. The patellar tendon plays a pivotal role in the way you use your leg muscles. It helps your muscles extend your knee so that you can kick a ball, run uphill and jump up in the air.” For the author personally, I experienced patellar tendinitis before and throughout OCS. It was a sharp, dense cluster of pain just below my kneecap, near the surface, and above the end of my shin bone.
The treatment is the typical Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation that normally is a great idea. However, at OCS “rest” could mean missing events and losing out on your dream career of Marine Officer! What worked best for me was this simple patellar knee strap, which kept some pressure on the tendon and seemingly magically reduced pain and weakness. Also consider using NSAIDs, massage, and stretching and strengthening exercises. At OCS, the corpsmen will pass out NSAIDs like candy, but those just dull the pain and do not contribute to healing, as they tell me, so consider that fact if you are attempting to ship to OCS with bad patellar tendinitis without telling your OSO.
Set yourself up for success with a sensible training program that does not lead to an overuse injury. Be honest with your OSO. If you experience tendinitis while preparing for OCS, moderate your workout, use RICE and immediately get a supportive runner’s knee patellar strap.