A few months ago I was doing some deadlifts (lifting a loaded barbell from the floor to your waist) during a CrossFit class. To this day I can’t say what I did wrong, but I started experiencing pain in my right knee. It was probably the result of a few things I was doing wrong and I ended up going to the Osteopath and not being able to load my knee for the next 8 weeks.
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This was far from a “serious” injury but it was frustrating. It meant I couldn’t perform most movements that required my legs or any loading of the knee (which in the world of CrossFit rules out a lot of movements).
Now, I’m someone who’s obsessed with making progress and when an obstacle gets in my way, I get very frustrated. Like I said, this injury was pretty minor, but I was super annoyed that I couldn’t perform at my normal standard.
I soon came to find that this setback was a blessing in disguise. And here’s why…
I started going to an Osteopath, Ray and began receiving treatment on my knee. During my discussions with Ray, he recommended I start taking magnesium to help with muscle relaxation and recovery. The magnesium has helped my muscles to become less twitchy and this is something I may never have learned about, had I not injured my knee.
Okay, so that’s a little silver lining. But it get’s better.
I started researching how to move properly to avoid these kinds of injuries in the future and came across Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard and what I read has literally changed how I move and perform lifts at CrossFit.
I’m now much more aware of my positioning, I’m moving better and lifting heavier weights than before. Since my injury, I’ve started a squatting program to help strengthen my legs (and knees) and am improving my overall strength as a result. Overall, the book has opened up my mind to the importance of proper body mechanics, not just at CrossFit, but in everyday life and I’m moving a lot better as a result.
I can now safely say that if it wasn’t for my original knee injury, I wouldn’t have read that book and become a better CrossFit athlete. In fact, I’d even say I’m GLAD I had the injury.
Finding the good in a bad situation is easier said than done. It would have been so easy to sit back and complain as I took time to recover. But instead, I used the incident as an opportunity to improve.
Coincidently, this is one the fundamental teachings of stoic philosophy (for a great intro to Stoicism, check out The Obstacle is the Way). The Stoics believed in learning to love fate. They viewed every bad thing, every negative experience, not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity for improvement. When someone cuts you up in traffic, this is an opportunity to practice patience. Or when you’re stuck in a boring conversation, it’s an opportunity to improve your listening skills.
You may read this and brush it off as simple optimism. Which is sort of is. But by remaining optimistic and finding an opportunity in every situation, that’s the key to continual improvement and happiness.
I’d love to hear your feedback on this post. If you have any similar stories about finding the good in a bad situation, I’d love to hear them in the comments below!