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Thread: Recovery from injury - getting my squatz back page

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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    Recovery from injury - getting my squatz back

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    I've been dealing with an injury to my quad since May that's left me unable to squat at all--not even air squats. After a LOT of physical therapy and careful recovery, I've now got the green light to squat again, taking it slow and mindful and all that jazz.

    I should be ecstatic, but trying to squat now is like re-learning how to walk or something. Front squats are harder than back squats, but even back squats are difficult. I got up to 95# last week in a practice set, and this morning I got up to 75#, at which point it was very difficult and my quad/hip were starting to tweak. For reference, my former PR was 185#, back in May. For me to have lost this much strength is absolutely gutting.

    I'm pretty sure I haven't actually lost that much strength, it's just a matter of re-teaching all the accessory muscles how to squat. My squats feel really unstable, like I could collapse at any moment, and like my knees are balancing on ice--definitely not like I'm recruiting all the right muscles.

    I'm wondering what would be the best way to go about recovering my form and strength? I was thinking high reps of low weight--like sets of 15 slow, controlled squats with 55-65#--but this was just a guess, I don't actually know what I'm talking about. Anyone have any other ideas or insight?

    *sniffle* My squats... I want my squats back.

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    Iron Will's Avatar
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    Get a physiotherapist or a very good personal trainer to work with you on rebuilding your strength. It sounds to me like you have really done a number on yourself and should be seeking help from a qualified professional for proper rehab progression.

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    Give these a try and when they start to get too easy give me a shout and I've got an even more brutal version !


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    Higher rep back squats with a lighter weight could be a good approach. This is similar to Bill Starr's recovery protocol for muscle belly injuries of the back, with deadlifts. I don't see the point in doing weird exercises for recovery when a properly executed back squat will hit all your legs muscles in proportion.

    Make sure your form is perfect, and do higher reps with low weight as you have started. As you get more comfortable gradually increase the weight, and lower the reps until you are close to your old squat.

    By the way, what happened to your quad?

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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    I was spotting someone on squat and they dropped the bar, loaded to 175, on my thigh, about six inches above my knee. My leg was planted at the time because I was in a half-squat behind the person, arms under shoulders, pulling them up out of the lift. Crushed the muscle down to the bone in a strip the size and shape of the bar. So, basically, one of those freak accidents you'll never see again .

    The reason I couldn't squat was that the resulting scarring impinged the quad and I started getting severe pain in the RF tendon attachment at the hip. The injury is much better now--though I still have a pocket of swelling above my knee that might never go away, and a noticeable dent in my leg--but the months off from squatting have done a serious number on my strength and form in that arena.

    Get a physiotherapist or a very good personal trainer to work with you on rebuilding your strength. It sounds to me like you have really done a number on yourself and should be seeking help from a qualified professional for proper rehab progression.
    I see two different physios and have three coaches who've been with me through the whole ordeal, and I train 5x/wk. I'm not lacking in people giving me qualified advice; but I find the people on these boards tend to know more about the power lifts and have a better depth of knowledge when it comes to those specific lifts, hence my asking.

    I don't see the point in doing weird exercises for recovery when a properly executed back squat will hit all your legs muscles in proportion.
    This was exactly my line of thought. I wanna squat! I'm not gonna get better at squat if I don't, you know, squat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    I was spotting someone on squat and they dropped the bar, loaded to 175, on my thigh, about six inches above my knee. My leg was planted at the time because I was in a half-squat behind the person, arms under shoulders, pulling them up out of the lift. Crushed the muscle down to the bone in a strip the size and shape of the bar. So, basically, one of those freak accidents you'll never see again .
    Ouch, that must have been unpleasant to say the least! You should probably go over spotting procedures next time you help someone. I squat in a power rack so I don't need spotters but I always go over exact spotting rules when I ask someone to help me on the bench.

    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    This was exactly my line of thought. I wanna squat! I'm not gonna get better at squat if I don't, you know, squat.
    I think you should be fine. Squat a few times a week, high reps, low weight, and keep working on restoring the weight by gradually swinging from higher reps to lower reps, and lighter weight to heavier.

    If you didn't actually tear something and/or break a bone, you probably could have done squats earlier, just very light ones. Sometimes a muscle needs to be forced to adapt through the injury.

    Glad you're back in the game though, nothing sucks more than an injury ruining your progress.

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    RichMahogany's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quikky View Post
    I think you should be fine. Squat a few times a week, high reps, low weight, and keep working on restoring the weight by gradually swinging from higher reps to lower reps, and lighter weight to heavier.
    Yup. If you want to stimulate your body to be able to squat again, you have to make it squat. And squat. And squat.

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    heatseeker's Avatar
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    Oh, believe me, I learned a big lesson about communication while spotting. I assumed this person knew what they were doing because we've had the same coaching and have been lifting together for a while--and we've always spotted squat the same way, with one person behind ready to take the shoulders. But even so, I should have talked them through the spot instead of assuming they knew I'd pull them up out of it. Lesson learned. Painfully.

    I've got a beat-up old bar at home and I'm doing a second conditioning WOD each day now in prep for an upcoming competition, so I'll just throw in some sets of bar squats and then one "heavy" squat day a week where I do pyramid sets and just build up my strength.

    Believe me, I wanted to push through the pain when this first started happening, but the insertion at the hip quickly became way, WAY too painful. Like, BAD pain rather than workable pain, the kind of thing where your body goes "whoa whoa whoa stop, something is REALLY wrong." I couldn't even do a half-squat at bodyweight. It was kind of fascinating at the time--I never played sports growing up and I've never had a serious injury, so navigating the emotions of being injured was a mindfuck all on its own. And it was THE WORST. I hope I'm never injured again, not because I'm afraid of pain, but because being sidelined and having the rug yanked out from under my progress was brutal and depressing.

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    quikky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    I've got a beat-up old bar at home and I'm doing a second conditioning WOD each day now in prep for an upcoming competition, so I'll just throw in some sets of bar squats and then one "heavy" squat day a week where I do pyramid sets and just build up my strength.
    Keep going up in weight gradually. Don't suddenly try to squat 50lb more. It'll get there soon enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by heatseeker View Post
    Believe me, I wanted to push through the pain when this first started happening, but the insertion at the hip quickly became way, WAY too painful. Like, BAD pain rather than workable pain, the kind of thing where your body goes "whoa whoa whoa stop, something is REALLY wrong." I couldn't even do a half-squat at bodyweight.
    You made a good judgement call. That type of pain is not the "suck it up" type of pain, it's the "let it heal" type of pain. What you don't want to do is just stop using the injured muscle until it is perfect - which is what many people do. An injured muscle, which is expected to perform work, via proper active healing, will heal better than an unused muscle that is sitting there, building up scar tissue, and becoming weaker and weaker. If your body is letting you perform a movement, perform the movement.

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