By Mark "Trebin" Nibert on 7/11/2013 Back to Articles
“The doctor basically told me…. that I would never be able to squat again” Lindy Wall interview
Lindy Wall is a CrossFit competitor who competed recently in the Central East regionals held at the expo center in Columbus Ohio. Her doctor told her that she would never squat again after she suffered an injury from back squats back in 2011. She also suffers from scoliosis, which is something that is close to my heart. My 5 year old was diagnosed with it when she was very young. Lindy is a role model, someone that all of us can look up to when it comes to breaking through walls and following dreams.
For those of us that do not know your story can you tell us about your injuries and how you overcame them?
In 2011, I was 3 weeks into the CrossFit open, sitting in 3rd place overall. On a normal day of training, I was in the middle of a set of back squats when I collapsed at the bottom of one of my reps. I was unable to stand up or walk for the rest of that day, and for the next full week. I went to a chiropractor thinking that my right hip was out, and after taking some X-Rays, the Chiropractor told me that the problems I was having with my spine were beyond his care, and I needed to seek a more specialized spinal doctor. After many tests that followed, I was told that I had scoliosis, spinal bifida and spondylolisthesis which essentially is a fracture on either side on my L5 vertebrae. After being told all of this, the doctor basically told me that lifting weights was just not for me, and that I would never be able to squat again. Surgery was an option, but it was no guarantee that my back would ever be the same again. To put it lightly, I was devastated. I thought that my whole competitive life was over and I would never be able to compete again.
I took some time way from doctors and rested for 6 months to try and gain some healing and progress in my back. After these 6 months, and no progress of healing in my back, this became a normal state of being for me, and it was official that this was a condition that I was going to be dealing with for the rest of my life. I decided that although this was something I was going to have to deal with, this was nothing that I was going to allow to change the way I lived my life. Yes, it was going to be a challenge and take some getting used to, but I was not going to let it define me. So, I started to lightly lift some weights again, as well as doing multiple different exercises to strengthen my lower back muscles to protect my spine as much as possible, very slowly get back into crossFiting and never looked back. I am now stronger both mentally and physically than I have ever been before, and I am continually getting stronger each day.
My 5 year old has been diagnosed with scoliosis and I was talking with her and she wants to be an athlete. Is there anything you would say to her or others looking to become an athlete?
Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and you want it bad enough. I know it sounds cliché, but it is absolutely true. There is nothing stopping you from achieving the goals that you have. I am no different than your daughter or anyone else. I do not have any super powers, I do not have any super strength. I just decided that I was not willing to let my injuries define the way that I lived my life, and I figured out a way to continue to do what I loved. Take care of the body that you were given, but do not let it dictate the way you live your life. You can absolutely do it.
How did you become interested in CrossFit?
I played soccer in college for my first 2 years, until I decided it was not longer the program for me. I came back to Louisville one summer, and started to work at a gym that was newly affiliated as CrossFit Louisville East. The owner, Dan Barnett, invited me to join one of the classes one day. It destroyed me. I had never been so sore in my entire life. From that moment on, I was hooked and I have never looked back.
In the Central East Regional’s we have some big names and you definitely held your own. What was your favorite event over the course of the weekend?
My favorite event was event 7, the final event of the weekend. The energy in the Expo center was incredible. That workout was my favorite of the whole weekend from my practice rounds, and I was excited to finish the weekend with it. I knew on that workout it was time to fight for my spot and I was ready for it. Finishing the whole weekend off with that workout and that crowd cheering me on was so amazing, and I will never forget that moment.
You looked unstoppable to me and did exactly what you had to do to pull back in to 3rd and make it to the CrossFit games. What are your plans with training now to prepare?
Now that I have qualified, my training volume increases and I go back to training for the unknown. Anything is possible now, and my coach and I are going to do our best to cover as much as we can between now and then. I will continue to train my strengths and my weaknesses, as well as trying as many new skills as I can along the way. I am also working on controlling the butterflies from excitement that I get every time I think about being there.
Do you feel that Olympic lifting and strength training are important when training for the open or Regional’s?
I absolutely feel that Olympic lifting and strength training are really important when training for the open or Regional's. The events are only getting heavier each year, and there is almost always an event that tests purely your strength at each level of competition. CrossFit incorporates ALL aspects of fitness, including all strength and Olympic lifting movements, so it is really important not to neglect those aspects of training.
How did it feel to go unbroken on those lunges with the axle? I was able to watch that and I was cheering you on from the stage area.
It felt amazing to go unbroken on the axle lunges. In practice, I had to drop the bar once, but when I was there in the Expo center, with the crowd (and you, thank you!) cheering me on, there was no way I could drop that bar. I felt like I couldn't let them down by dropping it. It was amazing. Hard to put into words.
Can you tell us what your maxes are in the following lifts:
a. Clean and Jerk- 195
b. Snatch- 163
c. Deadlift- 305
d. Squat (front or back) Front- 215. ( I don't really max out on Back Squat because of my back)
What does your diet look like? With all of the high intensity work that comes in with training for CrossFit how does it affect what you eat?
My diet is pretty strict actually. I follow about 80% paleo style diet but I also weight and measure all of my food based on the Zone diet. With all of the training that I do, I know that I need to eat enough to keep up with my body demands, and not lose a lot of weight. I do love my ice cream though, so I typically get in at least 1 full blown cheat meal a week.
What would you tell someone looking to start in CrossFit? Are there any tips or pointers that you would give them?
You get better! Don't be discouraged in the beginning. It takes your body a few weeks to get used to it, but I promise that if you stick with it you WILL get stronger and faster and it will change your life. You will get addicted to it, and you will love that you are. It will change your life in the best possible way.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us, best wishes in your training.
Thank you so much.