Several days gone by and I’ve had several good workouts. I did some power cleans for the first time since the ACL and everything felt fine. I also rode up Lookout Mt. in Golden, CO and again, things felt good. Here’s what it all looked like:
Power cleans: 135 lbs. x 5 reps x 5 sets
Knee was stable.
Weight felt fine.
Front squats: 135 lbs. x 2 x 5 reps
Easy/light day for squats
Front squats are more challenging than back squats but that means I can load myself lighter.
Good mornings: 135 lbs. x 6 – 145 lbs. x 6 – 155 lbs. x 6 – 165 lbs. x 6 – 175 lbs. x 6 – 185 lbs. x 6
Heaviest on GM I’ve gone since the knee.
I do these on light days, deadlift on heavy days.
Kettlebell snatch: 16 kg x 40 reps – x 50 reps – x 30 reps = 120 reps total
Super set: 3 sets
1-leg squat: 30 lbs x 7 reps
cable anti-rotation: 15 lbs x 3 seconds x 10 reps
Lookout Mt. from the air. My favorite climb.
Bike ride up Lookout Mt: about 2 hrs/20 miles.
Tough ride but good.
Early season climbing is always an eye-opener.
Knee felt fine.
Lunch and beers afterward! Yeehaw!
Jump rope & mobility work
First time for any jumping since the knee.
5 x 50 reps
Circuit: 8 rounds
Weighted pull-ups: 20kg x 4 reps
Kettlebell swings: 32kg x 20 reps – 36kg x 15 reps – 40kg x 10 reps for all remaining sets
I saw a non-surgical orthopedist yesterday and he walked me through my MRI. It wasn’t the worst news in the world. There were no bad surprises. I do have a grade III sprain aka a fully torn ACL. I have a grade II sprain of my MCL. No surprises there. The good news is my minisci are intact and undamaged. That’s great news! There’s also no bone damage. I’m really happy about both of these things. Surgery will be required but this injury could’ve been quite a bit worse.
I told him about my activities (staying as active and mobile as possible so long as I’m not in pain) and he approved. He said most people who get this type of injury sit down, prop up their leg, and move as little as possible. The muscles whither and their movement suffers. They go into surgery in bad shape and they come out worse. Recovery takes much longer under these circumstances.
This is no good. I’ll meet both meet with a surgeon and start physical therapy in two weeks. Some people have expressed exasperation and frustration at the pace of this process. I’m not one of them. I’m not the only guy wandering around Denver with an injury and this isn’t life threatening. I’m grateful that I have insurance, I don’t have some awful, exotic injury or illness and I’ve got people around me who can help. Anyway, the doc said surgeons typically wait on the surgery for two reasons: 1) We want to reduce swelling as much as possible and 2) We want to restore as much range of motion as possible. This stuff takes time and there’s no way around it.
Good morning: 135 lbs x 6 reps – 145 lbs x 6 reps – 155 lbs. x 6 reps x 3 sets
Super set 1
pull-ups x 4 reps
push-ups x 4 reps
goblet squat x 4 reps: I worked up from 16 kg to 20 kg to 24 kg
I accumulated 74 reps on pull-ups/push-ups but I didn’t time it.
My squat depth is getting better and I’m very happy about that. My knee is tolerating the movement well.
Super set 2
windmill: 16 kg x 5 x 2 sets – 20 kg x 5 – 14 kg x 5; What’s the windmill? Watch the video.
Today I repeated the pull-up/push-up superset for 10 minutes. Last time I did this for sets of 2 reps on each exercise and did as many as I could in 10 minutes. I accumulated 40 reps. This time I did 3 reps on each for 10 minutes and I got 57 pull-ups and 54 push-ups. Then I did some other stuff. Here’s how it all went:
super set 1
pull-up x 3
push-up x 3
AMRAP (As many reps as possible) in 10 minutes
super set 2
anti-rotation cable press: 15 lbs. x 5 sec hold x 5 reps x 5 sets
Y-T-A-W shoulder patterns: 10 lbs x 5 reps x 5 sets
Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT) band split squat: to exertion (15-20 reps) x 2 sets
My right knee often wants to cave in since there’s no ACL to help stabilize it.
This exercise is done to help create more knee stability.
I use high reps (10-20) for endurance and pattern repetition rather than strength.
I try and do something like this every day, ideally throughout the day. I’m “practicing” more than I’m “working out.”
It looks like this, but instead of a person holding a band, I looped the band around a nearby support.
I had another good workout today. My mobility continues to increase while my discomfort is on the decline. Here’s what I did:
Exercise bike: 5 minutes for about 1 mile at a 1 resistance.
Difficult to get started but feels better as I pedal.
Going to do this tomorrow morning for more time/distance.
Warm-up super set:
body weight squats to about 90 degrees x 10 reps x 2 sets
anti-rotation cable press (aka Pallof Press): 10 lbs x 10 reps w/5 sec hold x 2 sets
The Pallof press is my first attempt at challenging my transverse plane abilities since I tore my ACL. My ability to resist rotational forces is severely compromised without an ACL. Glad to see I could do this successfully.
Super set 1
Worked up to a 1RM of 135 lbs.
Did 95% (about 125) x 2 reps x 5 sets in a super set with
Split squats with the right leg fwd: 10 reps x 5 sets and pistol squats to a bench for the left leg x 6 reps x 5 sets
Super set 2
Deadlift: (My favorite exercise!) 95 x 5 – 105 x 5 – 135 x 5
Really happy to pull!
Tried a sumo deadlift with an unweighted bar and the knee wanted to collapse in. Won’t be doing sumos for a long while I’m guessing.
Bent Row: 95 x 10 – 105 x 10 – 135 x 6
Super set 3
Kettlebell 1-arm press: 16 kg x 10 reps x 2 sets
1-leg RDL – right leg: no weight x 10 reps x 2 sets: Here’s a look at the 1-leg RDL:
I believe all this work I’m doing is helping me a lot. Psychologically I feel much better than I would if I were sitting around with this thing. Much of what I’m reading discusses the benefits of continuing to move and maintaining any and all strength and mobility. That’s what I’m doing.
The barbell/kettlebell class I like so much is Tuesday/Thursday mornings. My track workout is also on Tuesday and my tempo run is Thursday. It’s good to put a bunch of hard work on the hard days, and do easy stuff on easy days.
The class is a very tough class. I think it may be impacting my tempo runs, thus today I decided to forego the class and do the tempo run then lift later in the day. Here’s what the day looked like:
7 am 2 mi. run: easy & slow with Diva the Dog.
I love running with my dog!! The vet listens to her low heart rate and calls her an athlete. I love that!
This was a warm-up for the tempo run.
Tempo run: 6 mi. at 8:26 pace.
This was rugged! It was supposed to be an 8:23 pace but such is life.
I’m not certain the class damages my tempo run. The tempo run is just tough.
For the next tempo run, I plan to skip the class again, run the exact same route but this time I will fuel beforehand with Ucan. Curious to see if fueling with the slow-drip carbs will improve performance.
3 pm: weights
This was late in the day for me to be lifting.
According to the 5/3/1 plan I’m following, this is a de-load day on deadlifts, so I decided to do power cleans in place of deads. (You can’t clean as much as you can deadlift.)
power cleans: 175 lbs x 5 – 185 x 5 – (and because I read this article from Dan John) 205 x 3 x 2 sets. In reality, I got 2 sets of 2 and that third set… I only got one. It whopped my a$%…
1-leg box jumps: 4 x 4 sets. Trying to create more 1-legged power for running.
pull-ups: 24 kg x 5 x 5. I don’t do pull-ups regularly (I used to) and these were tough.
kettlebell snatches: 24 kg x 120 reps (60 each arm)
We typically do 200 reps in the class.
I have a nice big, hot blister on my left hand and an almost-healed blister on the right.
I taped my left hand and that didn’t quite help me enough.
I was smoked at this point and I’m a big girlie sissy thus, only 120 reps.
The big thing: Regarding the run, I’m quite interested to see what putting some carbs in the mix does for my run next week. I’m doing my best to be in ketosis. Lack of carbs may negatively impact these types of efforts–but my track workouts don’t seem to be suffering. There’s a question here that I’m very interested in answering. Next Thursday might reveal that answer…
Last week was an incredibly fun and highly active week of alpine skiing, Nordic skiing (2nd time in my life), running and much fun with friends. I haven’t had that much fun in a while. It was the Colorado lifestyle in full-effect. It was Nirvana! Bliss! Unimagined delight! Insert your own superlative here! Weeks like this are why we moved here.
A bunch of people from the DC/VA area came out and we stayed in Pagosa Springs, CO. Got up there Saturday and I did my long run on Sunday, followed by a recovery run on Monday and we checked out the town of Durango which was really cool. Can’t wait to get back there for mt. biking, rafting, etc. in the warm(er) weather.
The next day a bunch of us got out on the Nordic track at Wolf Creek ski resort. That was an ass-kicker of a fun deal! I don’t think I did too badly for a newcomer. There’s a smooth flow and glide thing that happens when you’re moving correctly. I’ve definitely found a new must-do activity! (Fortunately, XC skis and boots cost a lot less than downhill gear. The wife and I are planning on a hut trip next year with one of my former clients and some of her friends. We now have a legit reason to get into this gig.)
Day after that was downhill time. Unfortunately, in a place known for fantastic snow, the conditions weren’t great–but they were OK. (Our East Coast friends loved it though. Anything out here beats anything out there it seems. Another good reason to live in CO!) I had a blast out there despite the conditions. My Volkl AC50s were perfect for the hard packed conditions. It’s like having two Millennium Falcons strapped to my feet. Groomers at warp speed were beautifully sublime and they were really good in the trees and bumps as well.
Our last ski excursion was to Monarch. They had several inches of snow the night before and it was… Well… I truly don’t have words for it. Take absolute perfection and then ramp it up about 2000%. That’s what the day was there.
I demoed the K2 Sidestash. I got them at the Mt. Shavano Ski Shop. I talked to them over the phone the day prior, told them what I usually ski and that I wanted to try something a little more suited to powder. They hooked me up in very good fashion. The Stashes were tons of fun. They floated very well in powder, they were stable at speed and I could carve turns or smear them very easily as needed. They were absolutely perfect for the day’s conditions.
The vacation amounted to a long, extended play date with friends. Interestingly the idea of playing can be a powerful thing. This article from Tim Ferris is titled How to Cure Anxiety – One Workaholic’s Story. Six Techniques that Work. The first point is Enjoy Guilt-Free Play with Friends. Though I don’t seem to suffer from anything like anxiety, this experience of vigorous outdoor play with people I like was deeply, thoroughly enjoyable on almost a spiritual level. (I’m not one to use word like “spiritual” very often. Whatever. This was a GREAT time!) A similar sentiment–to play–is echoed by this article from Kate Galliet at Prokine Performance.
This gig was so much fun I came home and started researching skis. The Sidestashes were great but after reading a good bit, I decided on the Blizzard Cochise 193cm. Should be getting those tomorrow!! Might try them out Saturday.
I’ve had some on and off right shoulder pain for a while. Along with it has been some wrist and elbow pain. I’ve worked wrist mobility, elbow mobility and I’ve worked shoulder internal rotation as well as elevation and retraction of the scapula. Like I said, the pain comes and goes so I figure I’ve been knocking on the door of the issue, but I haven’t yet nailed it. I’ve employed the following process to very good effect. I’ve used the same process with several clients and seen some very nice changes in shoulder pain and mobility, and neck pain and mobility.
An elevated shoulder
Recently, I asked my wife to look at my shoulders from the back and see if there were any discrepancies or anything that seemed out of place. She quickly said my right shoulder was higher than my left. I took a wild guess and figured I had an elevated scapula and that perhaps my lower fibers of my trapezius muscle weren’t doing their job.
The trapezius (or “trap”) is an interesting muscle. As the name implies, it is a trapezoid. From the picture you
The multi-talented trapezius
can see the superior fibers originate from the base of the skull and attaches at the lateral clavicle, acromion process, and the spine of the scapula. The middle fibers originate from C7 and T1-3 and attach at the acromion and scapular spine. The inferior fibers originate from T4-T12 and run upwards to attach to the lower scapular spine.
The traps do several things. Largely, they shrug your shoulders up (elevation), shrug them back (retraction) or shrug them down (depression). The traps also play a role in rotation, lateral flexion, and extension of the neck. The traps work closely with lots of other muscles including the lats, the levator scapula, deltoids, rhomboids, the muscles of the rotator cuff and a host of neck muscles. Consequently, if some part of the traps are too tight, too long or offline in some way, the result may be shoulder pain, neck pain or other issues down the line such as elbow, wrist or possibly jaw pain.
Mobilize & strengthen
To get things feeling and moving correctly, I like to start with soft tissue work via a lacrosse ball, the Stick, a foam roller, or whatever tool you like to use to soften tight tissue. I’ve found the stick rolled along the upper trap to be quite effective. An example is below. Also, I like to pin a lacrosse ball against my shoulder blade and the wall to get at the external rotators, mid traps, rhomboids, etc. I like to use the lacrosse ball in a similar fashion to work the pecs, but facing the wall instead of backing into the wall. Then, I’ve been using the following combination of stretches and strength work to put things in working order.
First are a couple of stretches I stole from Kelly Starrett at MobilityWOD.com. Both are useful ways to work on internal rotation and tie in some neck mobility. We often see poor shoulder movement that includes poor internal rotation and tight neck muscles–whether the lower trap is messed up or not. Working some internal rotation, moving the neck and loosening the tissue in that neighborhood seems to help facilitate good shoulder movement.
Second, I use the prone-Y simply to get a feel for what it feels like to use the lower traps. It’s nearly impossible to do this one wrong. Make sure to keep the glutes engaged so the low back doesn’t arch too much. Put a cushion under the forehead so as not to mash your face into the ground, bench, or table. I like to go to mild exertion. This isn’t something to make you grimace. It’s simply to get you connected to your lower traps.
The face-pull comes next. Take a staggered stance so as not to lean back. Keep the upper arms parallel to the ground. Keep the shoulders down–but don’t let the elbows drop. This may be a challenging skill for some. You may find your brain gets a tougher workout than any of the muscles involved. Again, no need to go to use a lot of weight or go to high exertion. Technique is #1 here!
Then I go to something I call a shrug-down. You can do this with a lat pull-down or cables or tubing of any sort positioned overhead. It can also be done with an assisted pull-up machine or unassisted hanging from a bar. The important thing is not to go too heavy. Just like the other exercises, this should feel too easy to start with. Many people find it quite difficult to shrug the shoulders down without bending the elbows. This is a skill and it may take some time, some steam coming out of your ears, and sticking out your tongue to master it.
Finally, I like going to a full cable pull-down or pull-/chin-up. Just like the other exercises, I suggest you go light. Try to separate the scapular depression (the shrug down) from the elbow flexion. See if you can make it sort of a two-part exercise: shrug down, pull up, lower yourself back down, un-shrug. Let me know if this helps your shoulder and/or neck issues.