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My knees are “incompetent”. Really?


Mike Right Knee MRIIt is official my friends… my knees are scientifically classified as “incompetent” and I need IMMEDIATE surgery according to the orthopedic doctor.  I should be unable to perform strenuous exercise and challenging workouts. I should be very uncomfortable on a daily basis and I should require surgery as soon as possible to live a normal life again… so they say. What? Are you sure?

Let me explain. I have a long history of knee “challenges” dating back to collegiate sports. I tore the ACL in my left knee playing soccer followed by meniscus and cartilage tears in the same knee years later. I had immediate ACL reconstruction in the left knee via patella tendon graft and then the other tears were cleaned up years later with out-patient arthroscopy.

More recently, I partially tore the ACL in my right knee, again playing sports, followed by rehab to strengthen the ligament (trust me, I was not about to have another major reconstruction). However, the instability and occasional pain still remains, which prompted my visit to the orthopedic doctor and MRI examination this year.

So, here are the conclusions from the orthopedic surgeon from examination of both knees…


–       X-rays indicate that the surgery was perhaps done improperly years ago and should be fixed. Anchor of screws with graft is inconsistent with current best practices and likely limits range of motion and efficacy of the ligament.

RIGHT KNEE (images in this blog are from my actual MRI):

–       MRI confirms horizontal cleavage tearing of middle and posterior one-thirds of medial meniscus, extending through the inferior meniscal surface.

–       Marked attenuation and irregularity of the anterior cruciate ligament, compatible with residua of a very severe remote ACL sprain, with subtotal disruption.

Mike Right Knee MRI 2

Okay, whatever. Sounds serious but what does this really mean? I am not entirely certain but I can promise you that my knees are NOT incompetent. I am not in pain or discomfort all that often. I have graduated P90X, P90X2, P90X One-on-One, Insanity, Insanity Asylum Volume 1, Insanity Asylum Volume 2, Les Mills Body Combat, Body Beast, 10-Minute Trainer, etc. as well as multiple hybrids with these programs and bodybuilding discipline. I have hiked glaciers in Alaska and will be participating in the “Mud Games” in Minnesota here in a few weeks (think Spartan Race, Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder). All of this with my incompetent knees:) I certainly take precautions as needed such as compression sleeve(s) on my knee for preventative support, proper stretching, modifying moves if needed and icing my knee(s) post-workout if I feel any discomfort, but generally I am strong and have had amazing results!

Although I will probably get my right knee resolved early next year since I am mid-30s with hopefully a few more years left of awesomeness, my point here is that you can do anything you are motivated to accomplish if you remove the limitations in your life that you impose or others impose on you. Injury, age, background or otherwise. No excuses, within reason of course. There are always exceptions. Be smart, be safe, but challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. It is never the right time to start something, so just start it. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Incompetent? Give me a break. Time to go work out…

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Premiere 5 Star Diamond Independent Beachbody Coach, CEO and Founder of TEAM RAGE, Mike Nowak Fitness, and How Do I Get Ripped, LLC. You are about to learn how I went from out-of-shape busy dad with significant travel, 2 kids and a wife to losing 20 pounds, 16% body fat and 7" off my waist while getting paid more income from home than my Ph.D. in Science & Engineering. Retired my Ph.D. career to focus on FAMILY & FITNESS!


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