(Consider this "Part Two" of a prior post on stretching)
It has become more clear to me than ever before that I had been severely neglecting the maintenance aspect of my training. Why? I think part of it has to do with the rush and excitement of a new method of training: like a kid in a candy store, you want to try everything, but before you know it, your stomach is having sugar seizures (try saying that 5 times!).
Another huge culprit of no stretching, for me, was plain old laziness. Stretching takes time, and patience - something I didn't have much of during the first year and a half of CrossFit. Stretching and warming up seemed to have a negative effect on my actual performance, and strangely enough it would psych me out. Skipping the warm-up and stretch seemed much more beneficial. It was good while it lasted.
Earlier this summer in the beginning of June, I began to increase my training in order to prepare for some hard upcoming WODs this summer. I didn't know it just yet, but doomsday was rearing its ugly head, and it was making its way towards me, full speed. The day after the workout that had finally pushed me over the edge - 400m sprint, 400m walking lunge, 400m sprint - the pain started to kick in. I couldn't put an ounce of weight on my right leg! I let about four weeks go by before getting it checked out, simply because I was afraid to hear the worst. All I could think of was all the training I had done over the past year and a half and how it was all about to go to waste.
I was referred to an amazing sports rehabilitation centre here in Mississauga, SPC Mississauga, where I was finally given the news I needed to hear:
"You have PFPS."
What in the hell is that?!
PFPS stands for Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome, which is described as "pain under and around the knee cap." Any forward inclination on the knee (walking lunges, box jumps, jump rope, basically an explosive activity on the knee) was not permitted. This was not the absolute worst diagnosis I could have been given, fortunately. Had my physiotherapist said "You have an MCL tear," I would have had a lot more to worry about. He said if I were to come in for treatment once a week for a few weeks, and come for bi-weekly check-ups, and continued doing the at-home exercises as directed, I would bounce back in no time.
It was ALL I had to do to get better...a little dedication and some sacrifice in training, and all would be well... Unfortunately, due to my lack of dedication, I failed to keep up with the exercises, and subsequently discontinued my visits to physiotherapy. Yes, I am an idiot. The epitome of idiot to be exact.
It is now October and I am still dealing with chronic pain. Every couple of weeks my knee begins to feel stronger, without the help of proper stretching and knee exercises, and I begin to think I am okay again. I pick a workout that involves heavy cleans, box jumps, wall balls, etc., and the next day I am back at square one: inflammation of the knee, throbbing pain and sharp pains.
What I have finally learned over the past five months is that injuries do not just disappear. They cannot be neglected, and you MUST take care of them as soon as possible if you want full recovery. The exercises that help strengthen your injury may seem monotonous, boring and maybe even pointless, BUT THEY HELP.
I have now vowed to myself that I will NOT do any strenuous lower body work until I am fully healed. It may be tough for many of you to come to terms with your injury, but patience is a virtue.
Fear of gaining weight:
The only reason why you should worry about gaining weight and losing muscle is if your diet goes to s**t. Stay tight on your diet and you should be fine. You have all the time in the world to bounce back and start lifting heavy again, especially if your body has become accustomed to it.
Muscle memory is a beautiful thing. If you are someone who has trained consistently in weightlifting, gymnastics, running, etc., then taking time off will not have a major effect on your body; in fact, strength will increase at a much more rapid rate the second time around than if you were to have just begun training in any of these domains.
Learn from my mistakes and do not jeopardize your recovery simply because you are afraid of becoming weak, or fat. It won't happen if you change your training to compensate for your injury!