I have bad knees. I think the last time I could move and be active and not worry about my knees I was 14 years old and at the top of my soccer career. Shortly after, I blew out my left knee, and while I did go on to play Division I soccer, things were never the same. Since then I've continued to be active, completing two marathons (one in under four hours), hiking, rock climbing, and joining CrossFit. As soon as I mention the dreaded word “CrossFit”, I'm sure a good number of you are going to roll your eyes, or say, “I know where this is going,” or perhaps even stop reading. But for those of you brave (read: smart) enough to read on, I do have a point, and it will likely resonate with you.
“It's a cult, it's crazy, it'll kill you.” Say what you want, but CrossFit has been my salvation, allowing me a trip down memory lane, back to the athlete I once was. While CrossFit has taught me a great number of things, the biggest, and most important is that if you try to push through an injury it will push back…and it will win. There is no hiding in CrossFit. The very nature of CrossFit, with its constantly varied functional movements looks to expose and exploit your weakness. Working around an injury means sacrificing quality of motion via compensations, thereby setting another area up for injury.
Any of you who played sports growing up recalls getting hurt and being told to rub some dirt on it or walk it off. While this isn't such a great mantra for any age, being young, stupid, and seemingly made of NERF allows us to heed this less than sound advice and keep on playing. But now, for me, with the impending 30th anniversary of my day of birth, walking it off or playing through the pain couldn't be farther from good advice. The motivation for this post came in the form of two extremely painful knees and nearly six weeks of not being able to fully work out. I tried to push when I knew I shouldn't have. I didn't listen to my body. I didn't play it smart. I fought my body, and my body won.
Now, I know what you're saying. “You're The Movement Maestro, you should have known better.” And you know what, you're right. But I'm also human. All of you current and former athletes reading this know how great competition feels; how amazing it is to test your limits; how rewarding it is to see results. Clearly, I got carried away.
My message today is to learn from my mistakes. Save yourself from the pain, lost training time, and acupuncture needles (which I’ve learned from these busted knees is a great method of treatment). Listen to your body, respect your pain, and don't try to ignore an injury away. Pain is there for a reason, and while its cause may be something small and easily fixed, letting it linger and grow is a recipe for disaster. The next time you have pain, talk to your coach, a physical therapist, or another qualified medical professional, and figure out what's going on. Your body will thank you.