Gremlin in the Knee

This article about the seemingly epidemic number of ACL injuries in pro sports was recently up on Grantland.  There were interesting tidbits about a newly rediscovered knee ligament, mental toughness, and proprioception, but what I found most fascinating was this paragraph:

JM_untitled_20120608_6571-MDr. Robert Litchfield, medical director of the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic at the University of Western Ontario and part of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team medical group, studied videotape of ACL injuries and found a pattern. He found that those who tore their ACLs all did the exact same thing with their legs when they were avoiding a defender or reacting to an offensive player. “They throw it [the injured limb] out to the side, and they try to make an upper-body move where they move away from the side that they’ve just planted,” he says. “And they get to what we call a `point of no return.’” The knee misaligns, turns inward, and the athlete lands knock-kneed. That is when you hear the pop. That is why, Dr. Litchfield believes, an athlete like LeBron James will never suffer a tear. “When he comes down from a dunk, he comes down very low and powerfully versus coming down on an extended leg.” In short, LeBron’s legs are bowed, and athletes who bow their legs generally don’t tear their ACLs.

I’m pretty sure the “bowing” of the legs referred to here is external rotation of the hip, something we practice everyday.  The “knees out” cue (meaning keep your knees parallel to your toes, or don’t let them roll in) is a common one whether we’re box jumping, deadlifting, rowing, shoulder-to-overheading, and especially squatting.  By working on this “knees out” positioning in a controlled environment we’re training our bodies to stabilize in this way, not to mention strengthening the necessary musculature to be better prepared for an awkward step, pickup basketball, or impromptu family flag football game.

Later in the article the ACL-less DeJuan Blair, currently of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks stated that “a lot of people don’t work on their legs”.  There are many folks, much smarter than I, out there trying to solve the ACL issue, but maybe DeJuan Blair is on to something, and it’s relatively straightforward.  Rather than new complex movements and contraptions, why not properly coach and scale the squat?  Back squat, front squat, single leg squat, deeper, heavier (when appropriate), better.  Simply put, squat more.JM_untitled_20120324_4259-M

December 17, 2013
Overhead Squat 3-3-3-3-3

Up Ladder 7:
3 Power Snatches (95#/65#)
3 Toes-to-bar
6 Power Snatches
6 Toes-to-bar
9 Power Snatches
9 Toes-to-bar
This is a timed workout. If you complete the round of 9, go on to 12. If you complete 12, go on to 15, etc. Scale toes-to-bar to evil wheels with the barbell if possible, or burpees.


Holiday Schedule Update: There will be no regularly scheduled classes on Tuesday, December 24th, Wednesday, December 25th, Tuesday, December 31st, and Wednesday, January 1st.  There will be an invasion style workout on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at 10 AM, no preregistration required.  Please note that Basic Training has been canceled on Monday, December 23rd, Thursday, December 26th, and Monday, December 30th.  Also, there is a modified morning schedule on Thursday, December 26.

  13 comments for “Gremlin in the Knee

  1. Shorty
    December 17, 2013 at 8:11 am

    OHS: 175#
    WOD: 12+9 Rx
    Snatches held me back a bit on this one. Great work 530am!

  2. Tom Matlack
    December 17, 2013 at 8:17 am

    125# working on technique
    12 plus 6. Thanks for the push Shorty.

  3. Brennan
    December 17, 2013 at 8:28 am

    OHS: 90#
    WOD: 12+5 Rx

    Great job 6:30!

  4. Meghan T
    December 17, 2013 at 8:40 am

    OHS – 85#
    WOD: 12+3 w/ 55# & Toes to Rings

    Nice work 6!

  5. SamB
    December 17, 2013 at 8:46 am

    ohs 175#
    wod 12+27 Rx … kinda mad at myself on this one. had gas in the tank at the end. should have gone faster on the snatches.

    great work 530

  6. Cal
    December 17, 2013 at 9:15 am

    OHS: 105#, and couldn’t get 115 over my head to even squat with.

    WOD: 12 Rx. TTB were great today, but I need to work on snatching efficiently for time/reps.

    Great work, 5:30!

  7. Garo
    December 17, 2013 at 9:21 am

    OHS: 155
    WOD: 12+6 rx

    Could’ve planned the snatch intervals a little better

    Great job 7:00!

  8. Brooke Ilene
    December 17, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Thanks a lot, Siegel. Now I wanna watch GREMLINS, one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time!

    In all seriousness, keep these articles coming. Very interesting read and very helpful! SCIENCE.

    Shoulder is still not 100 percent, so opted for Hang Clean 2 150# and Power Cleans 95# and evil wheels. BEACH BODY 2014. Thanks again Joe and Mandy for the options!

    Awesome work, 6:30!

    • Brennan
      December 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Oh yeah, GREAT post—I really enjoy science and picking the theory apart. Nice work, Eric!

  9. Tim
    December 17, 2013 at 9:59 am

    OHS: 125#
    WOD: 12+1 Rx

    Nice work 6:30am!

  10. Chris
    December 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

    OHS 140#
    12 + 7 rx
    Nice job 5:30

  11. Jason
    December 17, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    OHS = 125#

    WOD = 12+7 w/ 75# and toes to rings

    Over head squats felt very sturdy. Gassed from the snatches but toes to rings went very well.

  12. Shane B
    December 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    OHS – 195# – got 225# for 3 but the depth on my 2nd rep was questionable and the 3rd one was definitely not deep enough!
    WOD – 15+8 Rx – this was grippy

    Nice work 5:30

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