Way back in the early 2000s I tore my ACL playing soccer. It was a sudden injury and a shocking incident given my lifetime of playing ballistic sports such as basketball, baseball and other activities requiring hard cuts and sudden stops. I triple-jumped in high school, which involves three consecutive jumps at full speed down a runway and into a sandpit. And I didn’t tear my ACL doing that?
So the last thing I ever expected was to feel my knee crumble under me while chasing down a ball on the indoor soccer field. That year I had surgery on the ACL and chose to use a cadaver part. Mistake. Two years later, it tore again.
However the strength training learned through physical therapy for the ACL rehab protected the knee in the ensuing years. Ballistic sports are now out of the question, but that’s okay. Basically, life told me to “take a knee” on those childhood activities and stick to grownup sports such as running, riding and swimming.
Only none of us ever really likes to be told to “take a knee.” Usually, it means some sort of punishment or harsh instruction is about to take place. I’ll admit there have been times when it has been a struggle to stay away from the soccer field and other formerly fun sport. A certain sort of grief kicks in about that.
Recently my left knee, the one without the ACL, has been acting funny. It produces a clunking feeling, like a bone is protruding, when I’m in an off-balance situation.
That’s not a fun feeling. In fact, it scares me. So while getting stretched out on the Athletico sports table after the duathlon I mentioned my “knee thing” to the trainer. He told me his company offers free injury screening. I’ve actually been to Athletico for physical therapy and strength training for the knee before. Some of the things I still do for strength work were exercises I learned there. But I’ll admit to a bit of laxity about those exercises of late.
So I dropped in to inquire about the injury screening and came back for an appointment. A physical therapy specialist did some short tests on my knee and hips. I could feel the relative weakness in my left hip and glute.
After a consultation with John Honcharuk, who runs the facility, I signed up for some refresher training. It’s time to invest in my “resilience,” as John put it so aptly. I’m confident the investment will be well worth it. We love to think of ourselves as these educated creatures who run, ride and swim. Yet we’re often ignorant or lazy or avoiding the truth about our own bodies. Our weaknesses are not fun to think about.
Dollars and sense
It will cost me a little money to get the training and become more dedicated about my strength training. It’s frankly overdue. Neglecting your strength training is like making minimum payments on your credit card bill. It feels like progress is occurring, but actually, it’s not. Sooner or later the principle actually comes due.
The truth is often converse to how we are accustomed to thinking. Turns out there is more than one way to “take a knee.” Just add a word and the meaning changes. As in: “Take a knee seriously.” That’s the advice I’m giving all of you. If you have a recurring problem with any part of your body it’s a sign to which you should pay attention. It might be soreness or weakness. It might be digestive or urinary. It might be your teeth or your eyes, you toes or your butthole. Get it checked. It’s far better to find out the source of your problem and find a possible cure than simply hoping it will go away. Good athletes take care of their whole body. We shouldn’t ride our parts until they are bone on bone.
You may not always find the exact answer to your questions and concerns. It may take a couple opinions to decide the right thing to do. But it is far better to take a problem seriously than to wish it would simply improve on its own. Yes, we all get lucky sometimes. Some pains or problems do heal on their own. But not all. These are “traveling injuries,” a natural part of training and racing.
We’re talking about the bigger picture here. Chronic or congenital issues need to be addressed, not ignored. So: Take a moment. Take a knee. Catch your breath and figure it out. You’re in this for the long run, aren’t you?