I never thought I would hope a doctor tells me I need surgery until I had a tear in my meniscus. My MRI came back inconclusive. After trying a PRP shot, physical therapy and cutting out a lot of movements, I was pretty much just over being restricted and in pain all the time. I was seriously relieved when my doctor and I decided I should have arthroscopic surgery. A week later, he went in there, got rid of the tear (yup there was a tear despite that it wasn’t visible in the MRI) and cleaned up some other cartilage damage under my femur bone. After a few days on my couch, I was feeling mentally ready to get the healing show on the road.
It’s now been two months since surgery and my knee is progressively improving. My mindset with this injury compared to others is different. I used to be all gung ho on CrossFit and my goal with any injury was to get that shit fixed ASAP so I could get back to CrossFit 5 times a week like a nut. This time around, I took a step back and started really thinking about how do I have a healthier balance of CrossFit with other areas of fitness? I have hit a lot of PR’s and milestones and am damn proud of them. But I am also ok that I am not at that level right now. I am not dissing CrossFit by any means. I am just reevaluating my former obsession with it. There are aspects of it that I do thrive off of (like the varied workouts, being pushed hard, gymnastics stuff and lifting). The main distinction I have this time around is that I absolutely never want to get injured again. I have said that before without actually being smart about making that realistic. Like with tendinitis in my shoulder, while I essentially rehabbed that body part, I fucked up my knee in the process. I am over the days of swapping injuries.
So it is a shift in my mindset. I have accepted that 5 days of CrossFit right now would not be the smartest move for me. I have too many imbalances as a result of my knee injury that I need to focus on. I favor my right side and have to consciously engage muscles on my left side. For example when I do a back squat, I literally have a conversation in my head of ‘ok, slowly go down, stay in heels, don’t rush coming back up and don’t lean to the right.” Over time I will get these habits down without even having to think about it but my muscle memory is not there… yet.
I do seriously love love LOVE lifting. I would be lying if I said I did not miss lifting heavy. I do get somewhat humbled and bummed when I back squat weight that used to be my warm up weight. I get over that pretty quickly as I am honestly just grateful to be able to have an almost fully functional knee again. I will never take for granted that I can do things again like squatting and jumping. I am on a path to do them at optimal form so I can be consistent and safe.
I can’t benchmark off of my previous PR’s to gauge percentages for lifts. My new benchmark is my knee and how much pain things cause it (it will take many more months for my knee to be fully functional and pain free… and that is ok as it is giving me the opportunity to focus on doing things the right way).
I am fortunate to have the best Physical Therapist and aide (who is now my personal trainer) as they support me in healing and helping me reach my goals. I often question if I should really ever do high impact stuff and I share those thoughts with them expecting them to tell me I should never squat again or run or do anything that I enjoy. That never happens. They tell me I will get there and they will help me in that journey. My physical therapy has now become full on workouts where they program specifically for me. I still have goals as that is what will forever motivate me. I have said it before and I will say it again. I LOVE WORKING OUT! Even when it’s fucking miserable or I feel like I may puke. I am extremely ecstatic that my workouts once again make me sweat my ass off and leave me winded.
Ok so I am sure you are wondering what exactly are my goals? Here they are in an email I sent my PT team:
1. Stay injury free
2. Lose some weight and get leaner/more toned (I want to get back to
where I was before I had tendinitis in my shoulder)
3. I don’t care about things like snatches or overhead squats. All other movements
are fair game for me. I don’t necessarily expect or care (ok maybe a
little) about squatting as heavy as I have before. I do want to work
my way back though to it. Same thing with cleans and deadlifts and
4. Improve on gymnastics stuff! One day I’d like a muscle up. And I
want to learn butterfly pull ups.
So basically I want to be a bad ass 😉
But seriously though, obviously not at the expense of being injured again.
There you have it. I am practicing patience right now in my workouts and putting my ego aside as much as I can. It’s ok if I sacrifice shaving a few minutes off a workout time as that’s less important that compromising form or risking injury. It’s ok if I scale my workouts to what seem to be a beginner level. It’s ok because I honestly get a feeling of euphoria when I can actually do a workout in its entirety without having to swap out movements.
Life is good. I cannot complain. I am fortunate I am back to working out frequently, only now with a different routine. I have 2 days a week of Crossfit, 2 days of personal training (aka physical therapy) and spin class twice a week. I rest when I need to without the guilt I used to have of missing a day. My body isn’t where it was before fitness level wise and while I know I will get there, I recognize I have to pace myself. Overall, I am on the road to recovery and to safely get back to being the bad ass that I once was.