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Matthew Mackey 05-31-2006 05:53 PM

Hi all,

I've just recently discovered this wonderful resource; I've been a fan of exactly this sort of pragmatic, efficient approach to fitness for some time, but I've never had the full means or motivation to carry it out completely. Seeing such a large community devoted to these principles with such obvious results has fueled my resolve, though, and I've been working out with renewed vigor for the past couple weeks thanks to crossfit.

I'm a 19-year-old college sophomore (soon to be junior, but let's not talk too much about that yet) at Dartmouth. I've always been a light guy (135 lbs, 5'8"), and I've always done sports, currently ultimate frisbee. I'm looking to put on a bit more muscle while retaining my spryness, which I think Crossfit can definitely do for me.

Anyways, I'm really looking forward to getting into the best shape of my life, but I've got a couple concerns I need to address before I can really tackle crossfit head-on. Namely, I've had chronic knee issues for a few years now (I was a triple jumper in high school, lots of high-impact training led to injury concerns) which I'm looking to get rid of (definitely patello-femoral pain syndrome, my coach knew it straight away but he only pointed me in the direction of a brace and to doing knee extensions, which I mostly stayed away from), and I'm also about 6 months removed from an ankle sprain which sidelined me for a month before I could play in a brace, so I've been trying to strengthen that as well. It's good enough to play with no brace, but it still swells up every now and then.

Do people have any good advice for dealing with either/both? I suspect my back and hips are partly responsible for the extra stress on my knee, as I rarely had knee trouble when I was doing yoga regularly, but the VMO is also notably smaller on my right leg than my left and I'm hoping there are other means I can pursue simultaneously that will help. My knee usually doesn't bug me in the gym, but it does start acting up whenever I'm outside running around or tossing lately (this is without a knee strap to ease things).

I've spoken to the trainer here at school about both matters and got some good recommendations, but I'm curious to hear what the practiced rather than trained crowd has to say.

Dan Strametz 06-01-2006 10:35 AM

Squats!!! Lots of them. You will find most of the WOD will have some kind of squatting involved some way or another. Listen to your body though and start light, but do squats. You will get lots of answers here on this site (absorb)

Ted Recitas 06-01-2006 08:19 PM


PFS is generally caused by the patella tracking laterally. Your coach was partially right in steering you to the knee extension. I would go further and say the the knee extension, last 30degrees of that movement only. You also need to look at the hip and ankle as well. for the hip you want to see if the lateral, outside of the thigh, aspect of the hip is tight. If that is the case you want to strengthen the medial, inner thigh, aspect of the thigh and increase your flexibility on the outside of the thigh.
For the ankle sprain you definetly want to regain strength in that ankle. Some ankle movements would be great, calf raises, plantar flexion exercises, as well as the oposite movment, dorsi flexion.
The knee is a problem when you are "running around or tossing" because of strength discrepancies between your medial thigh and lateral thigh. Yes, you can narrow it down to VMO but your body is a system of muscles that orchestrate movement.

Hope this helps!

Garrett Smith 06-02-2006 05:16 AM

Look into some dynamic joint mobility--I prefer Z-Health ( There is also Warrior Wellness (google it, I know their website is changing). This stuff can help so fast it is unbelievable--one must be relatively consistent, however.

Matthew Mackey 06-02-2006 05:18 AM

I hadn't thought about strengthening the inner thigh; most of what I'd heard had to do with leg extensions or otherwise strengthening the VMO.

I've been doing lots of one-legged squats, and one-legged quarter squats on stability discs to work on balance from the ankle and knee, and I felt like that's been helping (it's only been a couple weeks since I rededicated to rehabbing, so full results are hard to see), but I'll try incorporating some inner thigh strengthening too. That'd be more on the machines they have at the gym for it, yeah? Are there any good free weight/bodyweight exercises for isolating the area?

I realize isolation is not ideal, but it'd be supplementing full-body work to help get things back to speed.

I have been aware of my hip a lot; usually when I have the time to warm up properly and stretch my knee gives me much less grief.

On another note, I just rolled my other ankle yesterday, so it looks like I'll have to strengthen both now. I've got some theraband to do exercises with, but is there a better exercise to work dorsiflexion? That's my primary weakness in my left ankle and I think will be a lot of what my right needs too, now.

Matthew Mackey 06-02-2006 07:55 PM

Thanks for the tip, Garrett. I've heard about Warrior Wellness; I've been reluctant to shell out the cash for it, but now's as good a time as any to get into it, I suppose. Z-health's cost is definitely prohibitive, though.

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