This is the story of a guy, his sister, and some squats.
No seriously, it is. My brother and I are very similar in our bullheadedness. When one of us is right , we’re RIGHT! by golly! Make it worse when one of us disagrees with the other. Then you’re talking about all out research, discussions, DAYS worth of emailing back and forth…yeah.
Sometimes he “wins”, other times I “win”. This time…Ha. You’ll see.
So here’s his story…
About two months ago I started doing weighted, full-range squats. This was counter to any advice I’d received from any orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist in the last four years.
In 2006 I had my left ACL replaced and, as is always the case, some of my menisci cut out or repaired. In 2007 I had my right ACL replaced and my menisci worked on. Between the first surgery and the second, I ran a total of about 30 miles. Prior to the surgeries, my annual mileage topped 500 on a slow year. In the three years following the second surgery, I ran a total of about 10 miles. My main reason for dropping running from my workout routine was that it caused pain in my knee joint; usually originating directly behind my patella, or giving me the sensation that I’d just re-injured one of my compromised menisci.
I started playing racquetball even before the surgeries, playing up to four hours a night on five days of the week in 2002 and 2003. I’d let this go to the wayside from 2004-2007 mainly due to constraints on my schedule due to a combination of increased workload and babies being born. After the surgery, I reintroduced myself to the court figuring that there would at LEAST be less shock than I would have to endure to truly run.
Between 2008 and 2010 I played a lot of racquetball (and maintained my sporadic approach to my physical therapy exercises) and was forced to take a month off every three or four months due to another injury, usually to one of my knees. Last fall Jamie and I were discussing the motion that one should go through when conducting a squat. She was of the mindset that a full-range squat is the only way to go.
“She’s crazy!” I could hear my orthopedic surgeon, various physical therapists, multiple nurses and medical aides, and fellow knee-injury-sufferers sing in my head (usually complete with image straight out of the Bohemian Rhapsody video). “This is the EXACT opposite of what I’ve told you to do,” said my physical therapist. “NEVER break the 90 degree plane! You’ll re-injure yourself and it’ll be your own fault! More surgeries will come! More time softening up your midsection while you sit on the couch and recover from a major invasion to your body! Your immune system will be grossly compromised YET AGAIN! Do you really want to deal with that?!?”
So our conversation continued. Jamie was pretty convinced of the benefits, and I was pretty convinced that I’d die and go to hell if I did full-range squats. So we ended in a stalemate of sorts, with her promising to send me some of the research on the subject.
About a week later she did, and I read through it. Being the man I am I read through the papers, which focused on explaining both the physics of the movement and the physiology behind the squat. It definitely made sense, but I still had the Nay-Say Choir ringing loud and clear in my head.
BUT! With an explanation which married up both the physiology and the physics of the movement, AND made sense to me, I had to at least give it a shot.
So I promised Jamie I’d do so. I put it off for about a month (What can I say? I love a good choir!) until one day I decided to do one of her workouts. In this particular workout, Jamie had inserted squats. Now I had a quandry. Do I do them like she wants, or listen to conventional wisdom? I ended up giving them a shot.
Truth be told, my knees didn’t love me that day. They definitely let me know I was stepping outside my comfort zone (Four years on the couch? My comfort zone was supine!) but they never gave me that telling sort of pain that an athlete experiences just before a serious work-out related injury. So I kept doing the full-range squats through the workout, and kept getting the same sort of physiological feedback. I walked home on shaky knees that day, I’ll tell you.
The next day, however, was a totally different story. My knees and legs felt GREAT! I was in shock! Surely this must be my body responding to the latest and greatest glucosamine-chondroiton cocktail I’d been throwing down! But maybe… I decided to keep it up.
Since then I’ve incorporated full-range squats into my workout routine and employ them at LEAST twice a week. If I go below that, my knees start to revert back to their just-post-surgery weakened state, and I begin to again fear injury. I can cut around the racquetball court faster, I now play basketball (occasionally, admittedly), I’ve started to run again. I have to say on this one… Jamie was right.