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Old 06-19-2013, 12:06 PM   #1
David Bendory
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Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

This is my first post.

Background: I've been doing CrossFit for 2 months with great results. Prior to this, I've been a runner for 25 years with cross training in lighter weights, elliptical, and standard gym equipment. Chondromalacia Patellae in both knees for 20 years, generally doesn't bother me, occasionally flares up.

Before CrossFit: 204 lbs. @ 30% body fat (eating a USDA diet), 10 minute mile, 2:00 on 500m row
Now: 185 lbs. @ 21% (Paleo with dairy), 8:30 mile, 1:37 on 500m
Making great progress on lifts + form -- handling heavier weights, working up to RX in some areas.

My problem is that my knees are very stiff. I've got good hamstring flexibility (can easily get all 10 fingertips on the floor) but can't bend my ankle to my butt. Stretching in a squat position is painful -- it feels like there are tight rubber bands constricting the bottom of my quads. I can get a good ROM in a BSQ, but only once the weight is above 150 lbs. or so to force me down. (1RM is at 235) Lots of "clicks" and "pops" in my knees. Occasional cramps just below the knee in the top of my shins; occasional extreme tightness in the vertical tendons behind the knee on the sides (lateral and medial collateral ligaments?). This has been going on since I started CrossFit.

I went to a PT who found nothing wrong; she says it's my body taking time to adapt to (or rebel against!) my new training regiment.

Anyone have a similar experience? Any advice?
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:52 PM   #2
Phil Washlow
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Bendory View Post
This is my first post.

Background: I've been doing CrossFit for 2 months with great results. Prior to this, I've been a runner for 25 years with cross training in lighter weights, elliptical, and standard gym equipment. Chondromalacia Patellae in both knees for 20 years, generally doesn't bother me, occasionally flares up.

Before CrossFit: 204 lbs. @ 30% body fat (eating a USDA diet), 10 minute mile, 2:00 on 500m row
Now: 185 lbs. @ 21% (Paleo with dairy), 8:30 mile, 1:37 on 500m
Making great progress on lifts + form -- handling heavier weights, working up to RX in some areas.

My problem is that my knees are very stiff. I've got good hamstring flexibility (can easily get all 10 fingertips on the floor) but can't bend my ankle to my butt. Stretching in a squat position is painful -- it feels like there are tight rubber bands constricting the bottom of my quads. I can get a good ROM in a BSQ, but only once the weight is above 150 lbs. or so to force me down. (1RM is at 235) Lots of "clicks" and "pops" in my knees. Occasional cramps just below the knee in the top of my shins; occasional extreme tightness in the vertical tendons behind the knee on the sides (lateral and medial collateral ligaments?). This has been going on since I started CrossFit.

I went to a PT who found nothing wrong; she says it's my body taking time to adapt to (or rebel against!) my new training regiment.

Anyone have a similar experience? Any advice?
Do you have an idea of what your strength balance is between your quads and hamstrings? For years I had great hamstring flexibility and horrible quad flexibility, no heel to but, pain in my knees. Due to a back issue (hyperlordosis) caused or at least not helped by this imbalance in strength and flexibility, I started physical therapy and worked solely on quad flexibility and hamstring strength. This multifaceted approach led to less flexible but quite strong hamstrings, still strong and much more flexible quads and no more knee pain. That being said my advice to use a lacrosse ball and smash the heck out of your quads, calves and anterior tibialis. Also try some pnf stretching on them, and perform some hamstring isolated strengthening. Since you were a runner it is likely that your anterior hip, illiacus, psoas and TFL are all tight/short as well. Try the couch stretch, it works wonders. If these terms (pnf, couch stretch) are foreign. all of the information can be found on www.mobilitywod.com. It is also a much better source than I am.

Do you have flat feet?
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:31 PM   #3
David Bendory
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

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Originally Posted by Phil Washlow View Post
Do you have an idea of what your strength balance is between your quads and hamstrings?
Don't know, but I'm intrigued -- one of the things the PT wondered was if I am "hamstring dominant".

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Originally Posted by Phil Washlow View Post
That being said my advice to use a lacrosse ball and smash the heck out of your quads, calves and anterior tibialis. Also try some pnf stretching on them, and perform some hamstring isolated strengthening. Since you were a runner it is likely that your anterior hip, illiacus, psoas and TFL are all tight/short as well. Try the couch stretch, it works wonders. If these terms (pnf, couch stretch) are foreign. all of the information can be found on www.mobilitywod.com. It is also a much better source than I am.
Thanks, will look into this...

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Originally Posted by Phil Washlow View Post
Do you have flat feet?
Indeed, I have a low arch; also, my feet naturally tend outward.
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Started CrossFit 4/24/2013: 204 lbs.@30% fat (USDA diet); could barely do 1 pull-up
Nov 2013: 175@15% (Paleo+dairy), 16 pull-ups
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Old 06-19-2013, 02:41 PM   #4
Phil Washlow
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

Hamstring dominant? I would assume more quad dominance from tight quads and flexible hamstrings.

I should have mentioned looking at your adductors as a possible problematic spot as well.

Low arch can be a factor in this as well, here is a video series about rebuilding your arch. Just so I don't get chastised for telling you that a low arch can be fixed I'll let them do the talking. May not be wfs as Kelly and Brian might swear. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha6ZxfG6Tz8
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:46 PM   #5
David Bendory
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

Thanks Phil, will try some of these new stretches and see how I'm doing in a week or two...
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Old 06-26-2013, 08:13 AM   #6
Bryan Hood
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

Try wearing a Patellar Tendon band. I think they call them "Jumper's Knee" band. It'll help that tendon track your patella correctly. Works for me.
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Old 06-26-2013, 09:52 AM   #7
David Bendory
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

Thanks for the suggestion Bryon.

I am finding mobility WOD quite helpful and just picked up a copy of Kelly Starrett's "Supple Leopard" which is just fabulous. It became very clear to me very quickly that this isn't a knee problem at all; it's a core stability and foot problem that is being manifest by overcompensations in my quads causing knee issues.

I'm learning how to stand properly, walk properly, and squat properly -- none of which hurt when done correctly.
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Started CrossFit 4/24/2013: 204 lbs.@30% fat (USDA diet); could barely do 1 pull-up
Nov 2013: 175@15% (Paleo+dairy), 16 pull-ups
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Old 06-26-2013, 10:05 AM   #8
Phil Washlow
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Re: Stiff Knees, cramps, clicks, and pops

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Originally Posted by David Bendory View Post
Thanks for the suggestion Bryon.

I am finding mobility WOD quite helpful and just picked up a copy of Kelly Starrett's "Supple Leopard" which is just fabulous. It became very clear to me very quickly that this isn't a knee problem at all; it's a core stability and foot problem that is being manifest by overcompensations in my quads causing knee issues.

I'm learning how to stand properly, walk properly, and squat properly -- none of which hurt when done correctly.
Great news! Hope you continue to progress and see improvements.
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