Monday, March 2, 2015

Final Reflections on the Squat Challenge

We've just finished our first 30 day challenge. Did you make it to the end? Not me I was just a few days shy of doing it.

My knees were in tremendous pain and after reading about Irish Weight Lifter Clarence Kennedy and his knee issues I just didn't want to end up as someone needing surgery later because he didn't take it easy.

I did about 26 days of leg work. I know, I know I'm a tad shy on the who 30 day mark but still that was 26 days of doing squats of all sorts of permutations to bring up my work capacity and squatting capabilities.

To be fair on the other days where I wasn't squatting I was constantly doing mobility work. Working on hips, upper back, neck and etc. Mostly foam rolling but now I am the proud owner of a set of stretch bands and have ghetto rigged them to some kettlebells on my floor to work on my external and internal rotation of the hips and shoulders.

These things have really been opening me up and some how have had a sorta of carry over effect to stretching without them.

Knees still bugging me, but they are getting better. End of the month I go skiing in Colorado so now I am just taking it easy on the legs until the knees start to feel a little stronger.

I can only guess to why my knees were struggling. First and foremost I think it was mobility and alignment. I wasn't particularly flexible to begin with and work an office job. I've had years of low back issues which are from poor hip alignment. So with bad hips and some other nagging issues I think it may have been grinding on my knees.

Trying to take care of the mobility and alignment equation with the bands and rollers. The book "Becoming a Supple Leopard" by Kelley Starrett has been particularly inspiring and useful so far.

Another issue is that I've always squatted fairly infrequently. I've been more of a dead lift man for most my life which has given me some strength in the legs, but still the stresses are different. I squatted maybe once or twice a month if that and then I turned the frequency up to every day.

To say the least the muscle and will power were there it is just maybe the connective tissue was not. If I deadlifted every day for 30 days it may have been a different story for me in regards to the knee pain. However, who knows though?

However, the knee issue aside the challenge was promising I feel like there was definitely a good hormonal shift in my body. I feel like I was getting more toned in all parts of my body and well just my overall fitness improved. I was working out every day doing other things too and really seemed pretty unaffected once I got over the hump of the first day.

I think humans are probably capable of more work than most people think. I look at Crossfit and how extreme the top athletes appear in their constant training and I look at this endeavor I just finished. Lifting and working out just became the norm and my body adapted as needed – it was really interesting.

I think squatting and hurting my knees helped me to also rethink my mobility and to some extent slightly improved it. Only squatting occasionally I wasn't really as aware of my poor posture and position in the squat. Doing it daily and finding out what hurts and what doesn't you really learn quick that you are probably doing things wrong.

Once my knees feel healthy again I plan on keeping high volume squatting in my routine by doing it maybe two or three times a week for warm up.

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