The long road to Squatting Pain-free

If you know me, you know that I’ve been playing a sport since I was 9. Recreationally at first and then more seriously after I got into College.

When I could no longer play because of work, I bought every fitness DVD and book in town and continued moving/reading about movement.

I did 7 of my 12 certificates with no intention of ever using them. I just loved movement. I found freedom and peace within it and I did not discriminate between the many kinds of movement available to me. I’ve P90x’d, Zumba-d, Insanity-d, Spin-d, Circuit-trained, Yoga-d and even marathon-d.

Over time, Ive found what I love the most is strength training. There’s just something about lifting massive weights that brings out the best in me. I love training with weights, I love helping other people train with and fall in love with heavy weights. I even tear up a little every time I see a massive pile of barbells and plates.

Where am i going with all this? Well, last year, I decided to try my hand at powerlifting. (Squats, Bench Presses and Deadlifts for maximum weight)

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The very heavy squats and deadlifts made the muscles just above my knees feel tender. It wasn’t a large problem, and I only chanced upon it because I foam roll everyday. But, it was unexpected.

And so I consulted Physio number 1: I was told I had tight quads and weak hamstrings and a little stretching and strengthening would fix it all.

I did that, and the second I started squats, it came right back.

Physio No. 2: Said I had “knots” and I needed myofascial release. Plenty of blood-curdling screams and painful sessions later, I squatted and sure enough.. the problem came right back.

Physio No. 3: Noticed that when I stand “straight” I’m actually quite funnily tilted (she was right). “Do more Uni-lateral leg work”, she said. And I did. Oh boy did I ever. But…. NOTHING.

Chiropractor No. 1 and Physio No. 4: Noticed I have mild scoliosis and tried “correcting” it by cracking my spine in various places. Didn’t hurt. But did not really help either.

And so I found myself standing in front of Physio no. 5, Vidhyasagar, from Sagars Rehab.

He listened patiently to all my previous attempts at a pain free squat, asked me to squat without weight, agreed that technique wasn’t a problem and decided to take a video of me squatting heavy.

I loaded up the bar, and squatted, I was asked to squat till he was satisfied he had all the footage he needed. Around rep no. 10 (just as I was getting real tired) he noticed a little blip in my technique. He replayed the video several times till he realised that while squatting, my right leg opened out a touch more that my left.

“Squat again”, he said, and this time, purposely push your left knee out as far as it’ll go. I did, and it still wasn’t far enough.

Well, the only thing left to do was measure my leg length. As suspected, my left leg was shorter than my right by 2.5cms. X-rays confirmed that the problem originated at my pelvis which had moved upwards by the same length.

How did this happen? Honestly I don’t remember. I tried my hand at every sport that came my way from Cricket to Volleyball to basketball(which I played for 15 years) to (more recently) Ultimate frisbee. I’ve fallen in all kinds of odd angles every time.

Ive torn all ligaments on both ankles, one knee and hurt my right shoulder. I have no idea which of those falls was bad enough to send my pelvis flying upwards. But here I am. A tilted pelvis and a spine thats curved around to accommodate it.

15 years of weight training has given me enough strength to mask the problem during most activities. But powerlifting needed me to be better.

So what next? I’ll save that for my next post.


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