“Whether things are posted on the Internet or the gym wall, we always seem to post our strengths and somehow neglect to report our weaknesses—to others as well as ourselves. It is easy to fall into a situation of looking at numbers and posting maximums in our training. It’s human nature to do more of what we do well, and less of what we do not do well. ” excerpt from an article by Gray Cook.
In the spirit of that quote, I want to take an opportunity to talk about some of my own weakness and limitation. The reason is simple: Identifying and owning limitations is often the first step in being able to remove them.
Over the past couple of years I had been forced into avoiding the squatting pattern because of what turned out to be bone spurs and a piece of cartilage that had detached and was floating around in my knee capsule. I had lost full ROM in that knee and it got progressively worse.
If it wasn’t direct knee pain, then it was pain in the opposite SI joint/hip area. The last half of 2010 seemed like it accelerated to the point that almost everything was causing problems in the hip. I stopped doing deadlifts, swings and snatches in the fall of 2010. It got to the point that even pull-ups caused the hip to feel weird. I think the “acceleration” may have been because I knew the surgery was imminent in January.
By the time November rolled around, the only stuff I could do that didn’t affect the knee/hip situation was grip stuff. The good thing about this is that I set several significant PRs in grip-related activities, bending, grippers, etc.
The bad news was that my conditioning had slipped considerably. Being unable to do kb ballistics, squatting or heavy lifting took a toll. The problems the bone spurs caused in my knee weren’t completely apparent to me until they had been removed and I set about learning to move again. Many people have told me that I am “Built for squatting”, and looking at my leverages, I agree, but the mechanical limitations of my right knee prevented any serious pursuit of squatting.
Until now. A couple of weeks ago I had the mental/emotional epiphany of this simple and profound fact:
I no longer have a “bad” knee.
That limitation is no longer valid.
The knee doesn’t hurt unless I approach the extreme end range of flexion, and then only slightly. I had spent literally years with a dull ache that kept me constantly shifting and looking for a comfortable position while sitting. I had become so accustom to it that I only noticed it after it was gone, like when the AC suddenly stops running in the background and everything gets very quiet.
I am just short of 8 weeks post op, still working on the ends of the range of motion. I still have corrective stuff to do with it, and it’s possible that I will always have to do some extra stuff to get it ready for more vigorous activity. I am cool with that.
My squat is still not great, but it is coming along. I am seeking precision in technique. It’s not heavy, but it’s getting more precise each training session. I know that this is the base upon which strength is built.
This weekend I will attend the Purposeful Primitive workshop with Marty Gallagher and Kirk Karwoski. The next few months should be very, very interesting.