I get asked quite often how my knee is coming along and to be honest, one or two little set backs but as you can see from the picture above, the hypertrophy or muscle growth is happening nicely.
One of the best aspects of my injury last spring was that I knew I would learn more about the knee out of necessity and Newell Strength would become one of the leading facilities in the world with dealing with knee injuries, a great thing if your clients consist of athletes and former athletes.
I am teaming up with the physical therapists that helped me and Dr. Gecha to create the ultimate guide to knee injuries. So, that’s another positive that came out of the ordeal.
Here are a few things I have been doing recently that you may want to consider incorporating into your training to either rehab, or pre-hab, athlete or not.
1)Make sure you are doing closed chain exercises for the lower body, meaning your legs are planted on the ground. You need to develop the neural connection to produce proper force through your legs, which can sometimes take a hit when you suffer a serious knee injury.
2)Get as strong as possible on the injured side. Now is not the time to baby it. Getting strong will get you healthy. Perform terminal knee extensions, and a lot of them. I will post some video of this on my youtube channel for you to watch.
3)Get the posterior chain developed. 3 parts of your hamstrings cross the back of the knee. The knee is an odd joint because it is only made of soft tissue structure. The gastrocnemius (calf), also crosses the back of the knee, so be sure to add them in too.
4)Put all fear aside. Although this caused me to have a little set back, you are better off taking this attitude than one of complacency. Until you get past a knee injury mentally, you aren’t over it.
5)Wear knee sleeves, they will keep your knee warm. You want blood to get to the area. I am not a huge fan of ice unless there is persistent pain. Use heat packs and keep it warm.
6)If you have access to a stim machine, jack it up as high as you can stand as this will help with the isometric strength and force potential. I allow the PT to put it up so high that it literally looks like my quad is going to hop out of my skin.
Again, I will put some video up of what I have been doing at Newell Strength to further educate myself on the knees and to rehab my own knee. If you need any help, feel free to reach out.
I was talking with my chiropractor shortly after RGIII bent his leg sideways and partially tore his lateral cruciate ligament (LCL) and re-damaged his ACL from an ACL tear in 2009. We were talking once again about sports related knee injuries and if RGIII would be able to come back next year. Based on what we saw from Adrian Peterson this past year, anything is possible regarding ligament injuries.
But first, we need to discuss what ligaments and tendons are. Ligaments are soft tissue structures that connect bone to bone and tendons are soft tissue structures that connect muscle to bone. The main function of a ligament is to stabilize a structure. They are not bearing great load in terms of force production as that role falls on the tendons. They both have a poor vascular supply, which requires them to need surgery when damaged significantly.
Tendons have long been known by strongmen to be the keys to power production. I have found this to be true in my recovery as the power and strength I try to generate when doing a lower body exercise seems to be lost when it reaches my patellar tendon region on my left leg. It can take a very long time to get this ‘hard wiring’ working again.
Ligaments are there as I said earlier to stabilize the joint structures. Look at the knee brace that RG3 is wearing above and you can see what I mean. That was a brace meant to stabilize the knee joint (not completely immobilize it), to do the already injured ligaments job so to speak. I also hope you can see that it doesn’t work and I have never been a big fan of big, bulky knee braces.
When it comes to ACL tears and the like, you need to strengthen the supporting musculature. Some athletes and my mother-in-law have taken this route rather than having surgery and have gone on to have normal function. When I talk about supporting musculature, I am talking about the VMO (tear drop of the quad), the hamstrings, calf muscles and the all important gluteal muscles, although they are not located directly next to the knee joint. With an injury like RG3 sustained, he will most likely start moving the joint immediately after surgery. This will help in joint range of motion and not allowing significant scar tissue to build up. And you have to remember that RG3 is a world-class athlete, with a super high level of motivation to get back from this injury.
Getting back to what I was saying about AP, above, speed and explosiveness shouldn’t be an issue as we already saw RG3 come back once from a similar injury and Peterson have a record setting year just 8 months after tearing his ACL and MCL. And since I am a big Michigan State fan I an also report that their stud small forward start playing basketball again at a very high level within 6 months of complete ACL tear.
I have no doubt that RG3 will be back stronger than ever and the most important factor in this story will be his mindset and desire to succeed. ACL tears aren’t what they used to be, our understanding of them is much better now and our training has advanced far beyond what it used to be. I’m rooting for you RG3!
If you would like to consult about coming back from you knee injury, feel free to reach out to Newell Strength located in central, New Jersey. 908-229-6666
As I was watching some of the Ravens versus Colts playoff game yesterday, I wasn’t as much interested in the outcome of the game as I was in watching Ray Lewis play his last home game, less than 3 months after tearing his triceps.
Injuries are part of the game when you are an athlete and Ray Lewis was unfortunate in suffering such a severe injury so close to the end of his career. But to watch him play yesterday, with reckless abandon, with no regards to his physical body, was truly a thing of beauty. And the topic of sports injuries is something that I have taken great interest in after my knee injury last spring. Its not the physical healing that ends most athletic careers; it’s the fear that becomes ingrained into your mind that will do you in.
Ray was able to play with such intensity yesterday without fear because his spirit is much more powerful than his physical body will ever be. Could he have called it quits after getting injured and just retired without playing during the playoffs? Sure he could have, but that’s what a lesser champion would have done. And regardless of what you think of his past, the man is a champion and once a champion, you are always a champion. It is a mindset that is well worth going after. I can guarantee you that Ray Lewis didn’t set out to get a certain amount of tackles each year or to get his bench press up to a certain number, but rather he set out to be great every day.
I see it all the time with athletes and clients at Newell Strength, people want immediate gratification. But the pendulum of life doesn’t reward those that are looking for immediate gratification. The athlete that steps up to the task at hand is the one that I want on my team. The one that knows he/she might be a long shot, but goes forward with full intensity anyway, those are the ones that will become champions. The athletes and trainees that skip out on the hard stuff don’t have less value as people, its just that they have yet to develop a champions mindset. Most of them never will, because that is the 99% rule, but it doesn’t mean they can’t.
An allegiance to an old injury or a diet or a contest will get you nowhere and you will be stuck on ‘Someday Isle (I’ll)’ with all the other average people out there. What is your legacy going to be when it’s all said in done? Are you a talker or a doer? Examples are set by our actions, not by what we say. And Ray Lewis is leaving us all with a great example of a champion and a leader that we may not see again in sports for some time. Be great today…
I always think its funny when trainers or strength coaches try to rehab an athlete or client when they themselves have no clue on what it is like mentally or what it feels like. One of the greatest blessings of my knee injury was knowing that I would be able to really help that many more athletes and clients at Newell Strength from a position of having been there before. I developed protocols both physically and mentally to cut healing time and comeback time significantly. I start playing in a basketball league tomorrow night, less than 6 months after rupturing my patellar tendon, IT band, medial patello femoral ligament and both sides of the knee capsule. I was told it couldn’t be done and certainly not this fast. Keep telling me it can’t be done, its fuel for the fire…
The video below will explain a little bit about how I have developed my ‘never give up, optimistic’ mind-set over the years. I have heard from a number of men that have had similar knee injuries to mine and that is the aspect they are most interested in. With that, it gave me the nudge from Mother Nature to organize my first Newell Strength Success Seminar, which you will be hearing more about next week. But don’t worry, if you can’t make it, I will still be putting out a ton of content on mindset in the coming weeks.
As far as my rehab is going, I had a deep tissue massage this morning with some ART and I just rode the bike in the basement for 20 minutes, even took it down a notch at the end to finish on a high note. The past hour is the best my knee has felt. I spoke with a young soon to be physical therapist this morning and he said that the rate at which I am healing is almost super human, unheard of with an injury involving this much soft tissue. I have to remember this as I move forward so I don’t get discouraged like last week. They told me 12 months, I’ll do it in 6, still a great accomplishment. Doc told me this morning that it would never recover 100% (once again), but I’ll prove him wrong. I am on a mission now and daily steps lead to big gains over time (read that again, it is a lesson that you can use for everything in life). Also, I found it fitting that as I was finishing up my bike session an hour ago, I finally finished the movie ‘The Wrestler’, which I had been watching in bits and pieces since first attempting the bike 2 weeks ago. It was fitting because it reminded me to follow my heart and not give up, a champion will always be a champion because it the mind that makes them so….
The above pic is of one of the gym members at Newell Strength. As you can see from the picture, his right calf is much smaller than his left. 4 years ago, Mike ruptured his achilles tendon and he says that the calf just never really came back.
Now, Mike joined the gym at the right time as I have taken a much bigger interest recently in lagging muscles because I know I am going to have an uphill battle with my left leg after I can full range of motion back. I have read of NFL players with similar injuries to mine not being able to ‘re-grow’ their leg after coming back, which will of course impair performance. Forget about any average folk that rupture a tendon, they are content just to walk again, even if it is with a limp.
So, when I saw Mike’s leg, it presented a great chance for me to put my theory to the test. My theory is that some muscles, injury or not (it is just more pronounced with injury) are ‘trapped’ by the surrounding fascia. The whole purpose of foam rolling is to ‘release’ and make ‘pliable’ the fascia. But here’s the thing, most people only put half ass effort into soft tissue work, thus getting nothing out of it. With Mike, I have him finish every workout with some direct calf work followed by some intense grinding and rolling along a barbell of the fascia surrounding the soleus, gastroc and achilles. So we pump the muscle, expanding the fascia as much as possible and then roll the shit out of the fascia making it more pliable.
I was planning on using this technique with my leg training in preparation of my comeback to the bodybuilding stage for all muscles groups, especially the legs! I will keep you posted of the progress we are making as I am pretty sure this is the culprit behind body parts that are ‘uneven’, although innervation might play a role in it too.
K, quick update, I have been making great progress each and every time at PT. Yesterday one of the therapists asked me to try not and scare the other patients because of my rapping, screaming and intensity in my corner. I approach it just like I would a personal record in the squat. I get in the zone, feel the pain and push through it. I did some light sled dragging this morning and plan on picking up the wheel barrow this weekend to start working with. Keep in mind, I am only 6 weeks post operation from what my PT calls the worst knee injury he has ever heard of. It is all in the mind at this point and I have to be careful not to let frustration set in because as is my nature, I am very competitive even with myself.
I plan on hitting some wheel barrow work early tomorrow morning, followed by PT and then an hour in the pool….the comeback continues….
I was gonna write about something different today but I am to souped up after last night to not share with you guys what I did. I had set a goal to walk within one month of surgery and I did it last night. Now, I am not walking around all the time without assistance, but I did it, it’s a start. I also got my first leg raise last night! Don’t worry, I captured it all on the video below for you:)
This reinforced the power of the mind to me. I have been visualizing, dreaming about and meditating on these events every day. No one broke the speed of sound until Yeager did it in 1959, people thought you explode and disintegrate if you tried (thanks Rich for sharing this with me). The year that Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile, 50 others did the same thing. Because….someone broke through. Impossible is nothing….
It hit me smack in the face at the end of last week….I was faced with a fork in the road. I was in the kitchen, making my grass fed beef, I was hungry, my back was killing me, my knee hurt and it was taking me 5 minutes to get my plate of food 10 feet from the kitchen to the table.
A small voice said: “Give up. Grab some cookies, its easier, they will taste good. You won’t have to worry about your body composition for the next 12 months. Give up, do what others would do….”
And then, I thought back to the years of bodybuilding, the years of sweat and tears, practicing basketball in 100 degree heat, 500 shots per day. I already taught myself how to succeed despite being miserable. I have trained my whole life for this moment in time.
I have taught myself to be a 1%er, the hours of getting up at 4 AM to go out and chase my dream every single day, the pain of losing friends, the weekends away from my wife, the injuries from a life of physicality….
I knew that in that one split moment last week, my life would change forever depending on what I decided to do. I was already in pain. I thought of the Hip Hop Preacher, “You are already in pain. Don’t cry to quit. Cry to keep going. Get a reward from it…” I chose that path, it was really the only choice I had.
I received an unexpected phone call on Saturday night from a long time friend and he just started talking. He said, “Kyle, you can’t let this beat you. People look up to you and if this beats you, it will beat them too. You once told me that if you say you are going to do something, do it. No if’s, and’s or but’s. If anyone can do this, it’s you.”
I have never chosen the road titled ‘Complacency’ and I am not going to start now. I’m gonna get a reward from this experience. I also believe that by choosing certain paths, things and people will come into our lives to keep guiding us, urging us along. Just as I started writing this 1o minutes ago, Louie Simmons called me! Imagine…legend, whom I spoke with graciously last week, called to see how I was doing. Louie wants to make sure I document everything so we can use this experience to help other athletes. Signs like that remind me that I and you really do have no choice, complacency is not an option….
It seems that if many of you love to hear about when I speak with Louie Simmons and rightly so. I remember the first time I spoke with him last summer I was like a kid that had just met his hero. I talked about it for a week. Since that time I have had regular email correspondence with Louie and we’ve spoken on the phone about 5 times, but none of those times was more important to me than this past Monday.
I had emailed Louie the day after my injury occurred because I knew he had suffered the same fate back in the 80′s I believe. He gave me some quick words of encouragement in the email and told me to call him as soon as I had the surgery.
Devon had just dropped me off at the gym Monday when my phone rang and I looked down and it read: Westside Barbell. I wheeled myself outside on my wheel chair and listened for the next 20 minutes. Here’s what Louie had to say….
- Don’t listen to all the Doctors and PT’s, they are foo-foo. Now, know that some are excellent, but what Louie meant was they have to protect their ass. He said after he tore his patellar tendon he walked into the doctors office without crutches 8 weeks later and they nearly had a conniption. He said when he most recently had his latest shoulder reconstruction surgery, they told him not to lift for 4 months….he benched 300 that same month.
- He said it is absolutely critical that I get back my range of motion as fast as possible. He gave me a gem in telling me to ride my stationary bike in reverse with the seat all the way down for great range of motion and ease on the knee.
- I need to do a shit ton more of sled dragging and wheel barrow walking. The knee joint integrity is comprised of the soft tissue that surrounds it. To hammer the VMO and posterior with walking exercises such as these will do wonders for my knee. 1 mile a day was the prescription.
- He told me to perform lots of high rep leg curls, even if I start with my ankle weights (200 per day) and to perform lots of high rep seated calf raises. Build the back of the leg up even more to protect the knee.
- Get a trampoline and jump on it, especially if I want to go back to playing hoops. It will prepare the knee like nothing else Louie said.
- Lastly, don’t have any fear. It all starts in the mind…know that I will come back stronger and I will. He cited Andy Vale and Jim Hoskinson and their remarkable comeback stories.