What Is Goosefoot Tendonitis?

Goosefoot tendonitis can be somewhat problematic. However, if you treat it correctly, you can make a complete recovery. What is it?
What Is Goosefoot Tendonitis?

Last update: 30 November, 2020

Goosefoot tendonitis is a common injury in runners or athletes from other sports. As with all tendonitis cases, it requires extra care and specific treatment so you can recover.

If you don’t follow the recommendations to the letter, this injury can become chronic and can take you away from your sport for a long time. Let’s take a closer look at exactly what this injury involves and how you can recover as soon as possible.

What is tendonitis?

Let’s start with the basics. What is tendonitis? Well, tendons are the fibrous tissues that join the muscles to the bones. The tendons are the structures that allow you to move. They tense up when you contract a muscle. So if you have a problem with a tendon, you’ll notice it when you contract the affected muscle.

Like all injuries that end with “itis”, tendonitis implies inflammation, in this case of the tendon. This means that the fibrous tendons of a certain muscle are damaged and your body creates inflammation to try and help the tendons to recover.

Unfortunately, this uncontrolled increase in blood flow won’t help over the long term. Instead, it’ll just cause pain, apart from letting you know that there’s a problem you need to look into, of course.

What about goosefoot tendonitis?

An inflamed knee joint.

To know exactly what goosefoot tendonitis is, first you need to understand what structure of the body we’re referring to. The goosefoot tendon is the three conjoined tendons called the sartorius, gracilis, and semitendinosus muscles. These muscles run down the thigh and over the knee and then attach to the shinbone (the tibia) below the knee. Goosefoot describes the appearance of these tendons.

Goosefoot tendonitis causes pain and inflammation on the top part of the lower leg, a little way below the knee. Specifically, you’ll notice it on the inside of the leg.

Symptoms of goosefoot tendonitis

Now we’ve had a look at both terms, you can understand a little better the name of the injury. Goosefoot tendonitis is the inflammation of the tendon called the goosefoot tendon. It’s also known as pes anserine bursitis.

You can also imagine that this injury typically comes with pain, redness, and swelling just below the knee. This pain will also be especially notable when you contract those muscles. In this case, the muscles are those of the front, back, and side of the thigh. For instance, it’ll be painful when you flex your leg.


Treatment for this tendonitis is basically the same as for any other. The only extra difficulty is that the tendon involves three muscles, which means you’ll need to treat all three to resolve the problem. The main ways of recovering from tendonitis are as follows:

  • Rest. Don’t play any sports where you’ll have to contract the affected muscles either a lot or quickly. Also, try to rest up as much as you can every day while you’re recovering. In this case, after the first few days (the acute stage), you can gradually return to your normal activity. It’d be a good idea to go for walks, for example, for gentle exercise.
  • Cold and heat. You should apply a cold pack when you finish a physiotherapy session, or during the first 48 hours after you first feel the tendonitis. After that, cold won’t help as much, and you can start using hot packs instead.
  • Ultrasound. If you go to see a physiotherapist, they’ll probably offer you ultrasound treatment, as experts in physiotherapy explain. The pulses that this machine emits can help the damaged tissues recover more quickly.
  • Eccentric exercises. These exercises are highly effective for helping to cure tendonitis, as a study published in the Rehabilitation magazine shows. An eccentric exercise is where you lengthen a muscle or tendon while it’s under tension, using small weights for instance.
A physiotherapist helps a patient to stretch his knee.

A fairly complex injury

As we’ve seen, recovering from goosefoot tendonitis can be a little tricky. On the one hand, it’s one of the many forms of tendonitis, which generally means a lengthy recovery time. And on the other hand, it’s a little complex because you’re dealing with three different muscles that are involved.

Taking all of the above into account, it’s recommended that you see a physiotherapist, who can help to guide you through the recovery process and give you advice depending on your particular injury. They might recommend that you start exercises earlier than normal if your injury isn’t that severe, for instance.

If you’re not ready for that yet, it may be necessary to continue with gentle stretches, using heat and ultrasound treatment. If you follow the recommended treatment, you’ll be able to return to normal in a relatively short time.

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  • G. Gutiérrez, F. Fernández y H. Sandoval. Tendinitis y bursitis de la pata de ganso. Ortho-tips. 2014;10(3):163-178.
  • M. Flórez, C. Echavarri y M. Pavón. Programas de ejercicios en tendinopatías. Rehabilitación. Volume 37, Issue 6, 2003, Pages 354-362
  • U. Ostolaza. Abordaje fisioterapéutico de la tendinopatía aquílea en atletas: punción seca y ejercicios excéntricos. Trabajo fin de grado para la UPNA. 2020.