March 14 is a night I'll never forget.
As well as CrossFit I was playing indoor soccer with some work mates I took a hard fall - cutting my knee all the way down to the bone. I'd beaten my opponent to the ball before I was knocked to the floor. I fell hard and knew I'd done some damage to myself. In the moment I thought there'd be a good amount of bruising and some nasty carpet burn.
It was much worse.
Rolling over to prop myself up all I could see was a mass of blood, fatty tissue and some tendon. I wasn't sure if I wanted to throw up or pass out.
I settled on clamping my hands around either side of my knee and yelling frantically for help. It didn't hurt so much but I was scared, really scared. All I could see was blood and I felt like I couldn't breathe.
Later that night in hospital, after X-rays, I was told I'd need surgery. Aside from the cut there was no obvious damage but the risk on infection was big.
Post surgery I was told the surgeon discovered the cut went all the way through the knee capsule and I'd damaged a tendon. Recovery was very difficult for me. Pain, not a lot of sleep, stress and anxiety.
The rehab drills given to me by my physio gave me something to fixate on but I struggled a lot - physically and mentally.
About 5 weeks after the injury I was given the all clear to head back to my CrossFit box - strict upper body movements only. I got in a few times but more often than not I found a reason not to go. Just like the three steps at my house the thought of 'climbing' those stairs into CrossFit gave me chills.
I stuck to my rehab and recovery though.
I'd gingerly slide on my Fortify Gear knee sleeves and go through my drills after work every day - turns out it was probably one of the smartest things I've done - outside of following my wife's advice to take things super easy.
My physio said staying mobile and keeping that extra warmth in the joint had significantly worked in my favour. The strength was coming back to my leg and there was no 'attachment' between my scar and the surrounding layers of skin.
I was given the green light to got back to 'normal training'. There were quite a few conditions though.
Take is slow, scale, scale, scale and scale some more. No explosive movements like box jumps for a few more weeks, easy into weights over the next few months and if that tendon flairs up, back off.
And last of all don't be afraid to wear the sleeve more often than not - the more heat the better.
I was still somewhat hesitant though - even today the skin around my knee feels strange and is extremely sensitive. Those damn stairs and my scar only fuelled my anxiety.
It was the simplest of moments that helped me break the cycle though.
One Friday morning my finger hovering over the reservation button on my phone, I stalled long enough to make it impossible to get to class on time.
Feeling down on myself I worked my way through my rehab drills - this time increasing the depth and working both legs instead of my right.
Hitting some 'reps' on my patio I'd worked up a good sweat before I stopped. Sliding the lone knee sleeve off my right knee I immediately noticed one thing. It (my right knee) felt damn good - decidedly better than my normally strong left.
After that my sleeves became my best friends - especially on cold winter mornings. I rarely walked out of the door for my regular morning class without them - sliding them on before I laced up my Nanos.
I'd warm up, lift and workout in them no matter what the featured WOD - all with relative comfort and ease.
By June I was back squatting with very little fear - all be it at a lighter weight than normal. At the start of July I PB'd Cindy and a fortnight later I recorded a sub 3 minute Grace - nearly crying when I clipped my scar on my knee but I managed to hold it together because my knee sleeve took the edge off the contact.
I've even knocked out some pretty big Pistol squat sets lately - they're a little slower than normal - but I feel confident knowing I've got that little bit of extra support, compression and stability giving me piece of mind if I et wobbly.
The only time I drop my knee sleeves now are when I'm doing rope climbs - to cover my left shin in case I slip - the right side is always up though.
I'm really loving my 7mm Tetris knee sleeves though, my all time favourites - I'm such a geek.
Those extra few millimetres were a little odd at first but I quickly adjusted and like my last pair I'm wearing them all the time. They've even made lunges a bit more bearable - a nice little barrier between my sensitive scar and the ground.
I've picked up the pace and weight on a lot of movements - confident both knees won't be aching later in the day or worse still when I try to sleep at night.
Now I honestly don't know where I'd be without my knee sleeves - the simples but most effective bit of CrossFit gear I've owned.
Jason - The Geek Who Lifts