Bilaterally Torn Meniscus
It was eight weeks since I’d squatted in a workout, but two weeks ago I did “Angie”. Why hadn’t I squatted in so long you might ask. Well, squatting below parallel is one of many exercises that was causing an abnormal amount of pain in my knees that only occurred during exercise. This was the sort of pain that I knew something was wrong, but what was it?
I first noticed the pain just before the 2012 CrossFit Games Southwest Regionals. It was during a high rep push press workout that I experienced pain as my knees flexed forward in the dip. I figured it was possible that I was getting a little too quady in the dip or that the high volume of training had effected the mobility of my quadriceps resulting in pain downstream.
It persisted through the Games, but didn’t limit my performance much. I’m pretty sure the 11k run at Camp Pendleton really signed the deed on a true knee injury, due to the fast descent down some steep hills. The pain got worse after the Games and I began to notice it an any movement that my knees flexed. The final straw was a day when I was back squatting triples for load and couldn’t bear the pain of squatting with 225#, which is roughly 50% of my 1RM.
I spoke to my injury specialist (actually a Chiropractic Dr., but much more of a PT ninja) about options and he spoke very highly of a company called Regenexx, a company specializing in stem cell regenerative studies. I got a MRI, which showed considerable osteo-arthritis for my age and meniscus damage. They looked deeper with ultrasound and found both of my meniscus to look a bit like swiss cheese with tears in each. He stated that 50% of men over 30 might have similar looking meniscus, but lack the demands of a CrossFitter.
Eight weeks after a series of injections that included stem cells taken from bone marrow from my pelvis and from my blood, I am beginning to notice signs of recovery. I can squat below parallel, push press, jump rope all with minimal recovery time. The reason I’m writing about this because I attribute my injuries to positioning. Preventable injury due to positioning during exercise… caught your ear now!
Take a look at the pictures, what traits do they share? Upright torso, weight in heels, depth below parallel, gentlemanly good looks? Nope, knees pitched too far forward due to excessive dorsiflexion and olympic weightlifting shoes. How can you prevent the same injuries? Focus on keeping your knees behind your toes and shifted out over the outside of your feet in a full depth squat. I sacrifice lower body positioning in favor of an upright torso so that I can receive heavy loads. Unfortunately, this position causes a lot of rotational torque on the upper and lower leg bones and each of the ligaments and cartilage that hold them together.
To fix this positioning, my plan is to squat slowly in the proper position, rewiring my circuitry to fire in proper sequence. This started two weeks ago squatting to a box at parallel with the focus being sitting back and loading the hips and keeping my knees out, but making sure to keep my big toes driven into the ground. ”Angie” was the first time going below parallel for a larger volume of reps. I moved slow and hit positions, rather than focusing on speed. Later in the week, we introduced low volume wall ball shots in a workout. This week, we practiced heaving snatch balances with little load, for perfect positioning.
My menisci (sp?) are two weeks away from being cleared for full training, but my quads are still problematic. I’ve made a plan to see Dr. Gridley for the weeks prior to the Southwest Regionals, but I’m also going to learn from the Supple Leopard himself in his pain cave on how to better address my mobility issues on my own. This will be key to moving well, pain free, for life. Here I come Kelly Starett!