Today was leg day. Ugh. I have a love-hate relationship with leg workouts. I have strong legs. Like a lot of people, they are probably my best muscle in terms of fitness and strength, but I have horrible knees.
In 1987 I was a competitive cyclist. Man, I put a LOT of miles on my bike and on these legs…and then I took a spill. A pretty serious one. Tore my ACL clear off the bone. My doctor was amazing. Dr. Dominguez — he was the ortho for the Bears at the time — took some of my quad muscle to reconstruct a new ligament for me and voila — here I am 20 years later still able to talk about using my legs…really, his repair was state of the art for the time. However, after all these years, I’ve developed some pretty serious bone-on-bone arthritis. And my left knee is no peach either.
It probably didn’t help that my brain still perceived my ability as “fit” when I was near 300 pounds and I tried to run at that weight. That led to two meniscus surgeries on the left. And my newest knee doctor, Dr. Garamone, to shake his head at what I was doing to my knees.
Having said knee issues, I have a mental block with squats. Even when my form is near perfect, I am terrified to rest my weight squarely on my thighs. I don’t do lunges or squats. I try, but really, you’d have to see them to get the full picture, and then you’d fall on the floor in laughter. I stick my but out as far as it will go, keep my head up and extend my arms all the way to the front and call it good. I literally do not bend at the knee. Terror.
My physical therapist after my last surgery introduced me to TRX.
With the help of the straps, I am able to support myself while I actually do a pretty normal squat. I was shocked and thrilled all at the same time. I know I need to strengthen my quads to support my bad knees and this was helpful. Then one day, my therapist tossed a medicine ball at my feet, asked me to straddle the ball and then reach down without bending at the waist to pick it up. Which I did, no problem. The art of distraction. By having me focus on picking up the ball, I squatted, grabbed it and stood up with no pain, no grind, no conscious effort of squatting. So, I CAN squat, I’m just terrified to do so.
Today, there was a lot of squatting and a lot of lunging. And dammit, I did it. It took me a bit of time, and actually, the quicker I did the movement, the better my form and the less thought I gave to it. I managed:
- 30 air squats
- 30 left back lunges
- 30 right back lunges
- 30 front lunges
And I am able to walk. A little shaky because I actually engaged my quads the whole time. I stand amazed and proud at my effort and my success.
Next Tuesday (7/31) marks my one year surgiversary. I am so looking forward to weighing and measuring myself. And still find it hard to believe that the thought of that excites me! I’ve come a long way, baby! I most certainly have.