Claire Smallwood is a ripping big-mountain lady and proud representative of the 505. After a stint in Portland while she attended Lewis and Clark College, she headed back to the mountains. She currently resides in Salt Lake City, where she is the president of She Jumps, a nonprofit organization that strives to increase female participation in the outdoors. Wherever Claire is, you can bet she’s exploring and taking on life’s challenges every step of the way. From Ghana to Chile to SLC, this lady isn’t afraid to take life head on! – Pip
By Claire Smallwood
I was deep in the backcountry when I tore my ACL and knew the journey back to civilization would be tough, but I had no idea that it was the beginning of a 15-month journey that would test everything I had inside of me.
The MRI showed bone-impaction fractures on the tibial plateau and femur, as well as a torn LCL. Miraculously, the MCL wasn’t torn.
The hamstring graft and healing process immediately after surgery were so painful, I couldn’t imagine being able to focus on any actual training besides making my knee move. By the time my PT had me biking, it was already 6 weeks post-surgery. It is the traditional protocol, and I have many friends who had followed this protocol and their knees were perfect. I decided to stay the course.
Six months later, I still couldn’t straighten my knee. At this point, I was cleared to do all sorts of exercises and strength training, but without the full mobility of my knee, my leg started to look malformed due its inability to properly function. My calf muscle was hard as a rock. My VMO was incapable of engaging. I needed to fully extend my leg.
So there I was, in the operating room again. PT started the day after surgery. But even in just the few weeks, I had lost all of the muscle that I had regained during the past six months.
I wish that I had gotten in touch with Crystal earlier, but after trying to ski, unsuccessfully, in the spring, I wrote to Crystal.
Crystal gave me several workouts I could do in my backyard with only two 15-pound dumbbells, and a chair/box. What started out as semi-grueling, the two workouts she sent eventually became easier. I could tell from Crystal’s workouts that she understood the level of skiing and athleticism that I wanted to return to.
The workouts consisted of core, back, and leg strength with explosive and rapid movement. They were perfect to challenge, yet not overexhaust, the muscles. Combined with the element of stretching in several of these sets (basic but fundamental yoga poses), I immediately noticed a difference in my leg that could not have come from yoga or from strength training alone. My leg started to naturally go straight after sitting for a long time or sleeping.
I’ll never forget that when I asked Crystal for these workouts, she said, “You have to promise me to follow these to a T.” I took her very seriously and now, today, I am on my way to CHILE to ski. I feel confident and strong. I have never been able to do so many push ups!
Here’s to shredding in South America!