As a therapist to many CrossFit athletes, both amateur and elite, I come across many knee issues. In the CrossFit world, I have never come across a traumatic knee injury. Meaning that no one has slid into another person or no athlete has landed incorrectly from a jump and subsequently blown his or her knee out. All of the CrossFit knee issues I’ve had in my office in the last four years have been from misalignment, compensation of other body parts and over-trained and under-recovered bodies.
The knee is a hinge joint, the largest in the body. The major players in the knee are the femur, the tibia and the patella, along with ligaments, associated cartilage and synovial membrane. I won’t bore with you an anatomy lesson, but I want to stress that each structure associated with and within the knee has a specific purpose. The major movements of the knee are flexion and extension. If you are under the assumption that all the knee does is bend back and forth, then you are living under a rock. There is a special muscle, the popliteus muscle, that aids in unlocking the knee by either externally rotating the femur or internally rotating the tibia.
The movement determines the mechanism by which the knee unlocks. For instance, if you are in the bottom of a squat and need to stand up, then the tibia will internally rotate while your glutes stabilize the pelvis and create a counter pull. If the foot is not connected to a stable surface, then the action of unlocking the knee is more femur focused.
As I’ve mentioned before, CrossFit did not injure you. It was your improper biomechanics and deconditioned self that surfaced once you started CrossFit. I cannot even count the number of CrossFitters who come to me with dominant quads and glutes that are inactive or with an abnormal sequencing pattern.
You can have quads for days, but if you don’t have the booty to match it, then you will have issues — most likely in your knees and/or lower back until you get your situation sorted. Foam-rolling your quads and rolling with a barbell will offer temporary relief and should only be used for maintenance. Your number-one focus should be to build your glutes and make sure that booty is working. You have to have proper muscle sequencing patterns. The glutes are your powerhouse and major pelvic and knee stabilizer. If they are not working properly, then you will have issues.
Five things you can do right now to help your bum knee:
- Stop rolling your IT band.
- Include banded good-mornings in your warm-up routine.
- Squat with a purpose.
- Stop sitting all damn day.
- Find a therapist that GETS IT and pay for quality care.
I’m located in Los Angeles, and I’m more than happy to help you find a therapist who understands biomechanics wherever you are located. Be proactive in your health and wellness care. Don’t play defense the rest of your life.