It all starts in the hips

I am really tired of this becoming a theme, but another injury has pushed me back into rehab. Not back squats this time, but front squats. We were testing triples and I was feeling good. I did 179kg with relative ease, so we jumped to 184kg, 1kg under my best single. The first rep was fine, but on my way up from the second one I felt a quick "pop-pop" in my groin and I went down. Leo got me ice while I lay on the floor until I was able to walk back to my car and drive home.

With lots of ice, heat, and aleve and some basic rehab exercises, I'm still on the long road to recovery. I originally thought it was the adductor, but Mike more specifically diagnosed it as the tendons in the same area, plus some lower abdominal damage. Three weeks later I can finally sort of squat unassisted without pain. My participation in the next scheduled meet, the Gold Cup Challenge, is questionable, and more importantly I'm missing valuable training time for the American Open in December.

Even after the previous injury I was still on the road to a breakout year, snatching 130kg and cleaning and jerking 160kg in summer competitions. The magic 300kg number is not too far away. I have no idea how this will affect that goal; Christy claims that every time I get injured I come back more technical. Apparently it's because I spend so much time working with lighter weight. To be honest, I think technique is still the biggest thing holding me back.

All this has led me to ponder the questions of how this happened in the first place and what can I do to prevent it from happening again. For one, I am considering whether or not it is necessary to test lifts like front squat and back squat after a certain point. We train to get better mostly in the 80%-90% range (ie: four triples at 85% with pauses). For someone like me, where my front squat is way ahead of my clean and jerk, I don't even need to get used to holding maximal weight. I can still increase my strength levels with normal training, and I can just raise my "projected" max whenever the weight starts to get easier. It's a lot higher injury risk for only a little payoff, and I wouldn't be the first athlete to follow this philosophy.

The other part of the question is, of course, why did that tendon give out? My leg strength should be the bottleneck, not my connective tissue. I have heard quite a few people say things along the lines of the body not being meant to hold that much weight, which is crap. It's not steroids (USADA agrees, I am drug-free!) or connective tissue strength not being commensurate with muscle strength. In this case, it seems to be an adductor/abductor strength mismatch and tightness issue. Just like the excessive anterior pelvic tilt issue I mentioned in a previous post, the fact that I spend a lot of time seated is a problem.

When I go to workout with Leo, I spend an hour and a half in the car, each way. I usually like to rest my left leg against the door or sometimes up on the dash; long drives are tiring! It just so happens that the correct alignment of your knee as you squat is over your second toe. With my leg out to the side, my abductor is in a contracted position for an extended period of time. The adductor, then, is stretched out for a long time. Generally speaking, that makes the abductor really tight and the adductor relatively weak. No surprise then that my injury is on the left side.

I have never had very good lateral hip flexibility, cramping easily when flexed at certain angles. But your hips are the all-important connection between your upper body and your lower body. Staying upright and keeping your hips under you is of paramount importance during front squats. I even recently discovered that I push my hips back slightly when I dip to jerk, and though it is difficult to break the habit I find that just preventing that motion makes the same jerks suddenly feel a lot easier. So now I am on a mission to increase my balance, range of motion, and overall hip strength in all directions. Exercises include lateral leg raises, the "warrior three" yoga pose, and holding my leg out straight and to the side, sort of like hand-to-big-toe pose without the hand-to-big-toe. The rehab squats I do are designed to teach me to keep my knee over my second toe and not let it wander out.

I think I am handling this well, even though it gets very difficult to stay motivated and keep a positive mindstate. Every time I start thinking about how hard it will be to meet my goals I have been able to push those thoughts away. Very slowly I'm starting to feel more like myself in workouts, though I have been limited to the power versions of the lifts ever since. There's nothing else I can do but my best, and it's to be expected that I won't be able to pinpoint every potential issue in advance.

But I certainly found this one.

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