Knee Surgery & Movement Reflection
On Tuesday, August 7th, I went to Northwestern Hospital for a scheduled left knee arthroscopy to remove a cluster of intra-articular bodies in the anterior recess. Or, as the doc put it: “to clean up my knee”– as if he were taking a Swiffer Wet Jet in there or something.
Nothing major happened. There was no vicious trauma, a fall, or an accident. This was just a product of an active lifestyle; I’d been putting this off for about six months. In fact, just a few days before surgery, I hit a PR front squat at 300+, worked on some deadlift block pulls at 500+, and a 5lb strict press PR that I’d been eyeing for two years.
Today will be the one-week anniversary since my knee got “swiffered,” and I can’t begin tell you how bad I’m itching to get back to moving freely–to be able to travel around the gym, walk fast, walk slow, or hop in and out of my truck with ease. I’m eager to take the dogs for a long stroll at night, move a barbell with proficiency, carry a laundry basket up and down stairs, or simply get a cup of coffee with a friend. I’ve come to realize: It’s the day-to-day stuff that we often and accidentally take for granted, myself included. So when its actually taken away, it promotes reflection. And motivates.
I can’t imagine what it might feel like to completely abandon any kind of physical practice for a month. A year. Two years. But perhaps that’s due to the fact that I’ve adjusted my lifestyle to include it. However, for so many of our friends and family, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Years ago, one of my brothers was gaining weight, looking a bit rough and generally just felt bad. So I purchased him a 3-month gym membership to CrossFit Alpha Dog, without realizing how this temporary exposure would transform into an on-going commitment to health and fitness. Now, his wife and kids are also avid CrossFitters. My brother has traveled to the CrossFit Games in CA and WI., his wife is obsessed with Sara Sigmundsdóttir, his son has air squat positioning that’s out of this world, and he often sends me videos of his daughter doing burpees. As for his friends? They’ve turned into CrossFitters too. One of those friends also has a wife that changed her career path to be in the health & fitness industry.
So what can you do? Years back, I took a small step to help someone in my life, and it’s been paid forward many times over. Whatever the gesture, dare to make it. Bring someone to the gym. Take your parents, neighbors or friends for a walk. Instead of downplaying your pledge to training, your recent personal record or weekly gym attendance with your co-workers; share these stories, and challenge them to inspire change, too–or better yet, ask them to join you. An invitation is a chosen opportunity. And an opportunity can promote change. To have access to refined movement training makes us particularly lucky, but it’s what we do with this knowledge and experience that defines meaningful change.
The point is: You never know when a small gesture could reach far beyond it’s intended target. And if we never attempt them, we miss out on some of the most important benefits of what we, as athletes, do.