Crossfit fixed my sore knee

This past Memorial Day I made an actual appearance outside of my basement and back yard, participating in a Crossfit event known as The Murph Challenge. Given the chance to sleep in and lolly-gag on a hot day, insane people report to the gym and wear a 20-pound vest and run 1 mile, do 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats, and run another mile. I finished (which I guess is saying a lot) at around the 51-minute mark.

This type of strength-endurance grind is not exactly my forte. I'm still far less into the workout of the day and more into "How high can I jump and climb up on this tree or roof and jump down."

The Murph was formidablee despite my 6-minute mile, well over 400 pound squat, chin-up +180 pounds and single arm/leg push ups. There were a few key equipment malfunctions and I'm fairly sore today. But I have renewed appreciation for strength-endurance and I'm thankful to have tried something different.

Being the exercise programming chief for well over 40 hours every week, I cherish the chance to show up, have a good attitude, and simply do what I'm told to do. No matter the location, afterward I try to pause and consider "What can be learned from the days activity?" And now we're getting to the point...

With 10-days before The Murph I experienced a sharp and severe pain in my left knee. This was considered a win/fail because it happened while successfully tuck-jumping what is close to my personal record. Such is the nature of doing maximal effort plyos in middle age.

Anyway, the knee hurt to the extent that I skipped "real" lifting in favor of some rehab and strength/endurance type work. Three days prior to Murph I could run well enough but not full blast, and bending as in a squat or jump remained painful.

On the day of The Murph I downed three ibuprofen and decided that I would try to put the knee out of my mind. I ran with a loaded pack and squatted 300 times and got up and down off the floor without a single jolt. I assumed there would be dues to pay after cooling down and the IBU wore off. But everything remains much better.

Did Crossfit fix my sore knee? Shall we call it "working it out" or something else?

We rarely hear about the myriad of physical and mental good that training accomplished every day. I'm not referring to gym selfies and fitspiration, but being resilient and capable as a human. So often we hear about the injuries (or maybe it's just the PTs).

We assume that the past structure and function of our musculoskeletal system is a good indicator of what's to come. We expect our body to work when called upon. But we shouldn't. Nobody is getting younger. People get hurt doing all kinds of things, and those are the ones you hear about.

This is not to say that all methods and means of training are equal. They're not. But we take credit for our accomplishments and shift the blame in our failures (most non-traumatic injuries being a mix of deserved repercussion and accident). People get strong and fit and injured and lean and fast doing Crossfit and a lot of other things. Just like car mechanics, barbers, and physical therapists, there is better and worse Crossfit. This depends to a great extent on quality coaching.

We would all prepare better, function better, and recover much better when we acknowledge our choice in the matter of what we do (or hold from) with our physical being. The brain effects the body effects the brain, on and on. Working for nearly two decades as a physical therapist and trainer (and my own training successes and failures), I've witnessed the dramatic effects that pre-injury expectations and state-of-mind has on recovery and final outcome.

From elite athletes to Netflix champions, there will always be little reward with little risk. Whether proactively or by default, you have chosen your own good, the path that you find some type of value in. Hopefully you will set aside time to take inventory of where you're headed and manage the bumps in your chosen path.


A fast & easy means to cosmic gains and eyeball-shattering rippedness

"Simple does not mean easy. Simple is often harder than complex."

        -Steve Jobes

Donny and his parents are my good friends and neighbors. I love his enthusiasm for fitness and parkour type activities. Donny is at the stage of the game where an immediate burst of energy is always on reserve. He will take on a backyard obstacle course, shaving seconds from his PR until your thumbs ache from pressing the stopwatch.

Donny has been training for less than nine months. In that time he's improved from zero to a dozen pull-ups. He can climb and hang and tumble and nearly land a back flip on flat ground. His physique has notably changed.

Donny has a lot of questions. He wants to get faster and stronger and see his abs, like nearly every other male on the planet. I...well, try.

I advise him to sprint fairly short distances, focusing on powerful push-off and quick turnover of his feet and resting a lot in between efforts.

Donny wants to do bicep curls and bench press and he bangs out crappy form push-ups. I tell him to instead master the basics, like what it means make push-ups harder with a neutral spine and proper shoulder slot.

I advise him to hang and climb and do challenging tuck jumps focusing on core control and soft landings.

I advise him not to worry about ab-shredder-this and boot-camp-circuit-that and instead focus on getting his hips stronger through some variations of squats and dead lifts. 14-year olds can go all day but I have yet to meet one with too much power.

I advise him to pound the lean meats, fruits, and vegetables and limit but not eliminate treats.

Donny responds with shallow head nods, staring off into space. I've seen this before from other young men.

"Okay, sure. Now give me the real advice..."

"But the guys Youtube videos say..."

"How do you isolate the lower abs?..."

Just like everyone with a rudimentary interest in training, Donny is plagued with information overload, so many Youtube guys and gals providing good and bad advice. In this day and age, knowing what not to do is an exceedingly rare and valuable commodity.

Most teenagers (and their elders) do either nothing in terms of training or they enthusiastically dive into a haphazard approach of over-doing it. But the sweet spot lies in the rhythm of repeated and systematic effort and recovery

At the very least, Donny sees me as one who appreciates what he wants to accomplish and can establish a means to get there. I hope that he realizes the value in one who goes before him and can save him a lot of time and trouble.

I hope that he believes that it's unnecessary and impractical to do everything at once.

I hope he trusts that authentic change and improvement takes time. I have asked Donny to be patient and keep up with what he should be doing for at least three to six months, which translates to 3 to 6 millennia in the life of a teenager.

I hope he learns to appreciate the value of regular, simple and systematic hard work over any notion of magic exercises, workouts, or supplements.

I hope he comes to understand that the real miracle exists in the process and that any simple and easy way removes the most valuable aspect of training.

There truly is more at stake than sharper abs and landed back flips, goals or home runs or rushing yards or what-have-you.