As one of the world’s top athletes, Josh Bridges is tough to pin down. But we snagged a few minutes with him recently to discuss any athlete’s least favorite subjects: injury and rehab. And, he passed along some advice he’s gleaned over the years, including his use of the TrueForm treadmill, a self-propelled machine that emphasizes proper running form.
You wrecked your knee a few years back in 2012. How’d that happen?
I was messing around and roughing up with a buddy. And, that was it. I dislocated my knee, and tore my MCL, PCL, ACL and meniscus.
Wow. How was the rehab on that kind of thing?
It was hard. It was long. I just tried to stay positive. I surrounded myself with good people. And, I found every progressive physical therapist and athletic trainer I could. It started off pretty slow. I tried to stay thin as much as possible to move the healing process along. Slowly, but surely, I got back to where I needed to be.
Did your career as a Navy SEAL give you an upper hand in the healing process at all?
All my job was to do was to go in and get better. I had no other responsibilities. I went to PT twice a day a lot of days. And, I went home and tried to recover. I looked at it as if I was sick. Then it became a game of when I could push and when I needed to back off and find every resource I could find to get me back to where I needed to be.
How did this injury impact your running form?
I felt like it got a lot better. I had to really learn how to move correctly. Not just move. If I moved wrong, I could possibly re-injure the ligaments. I had to figure out how to move well. I’ve had to do a lot of stuff over the years because it’ll flare back up. There’s still a lot of fluid in my knee, and scar tissues is still there. And, maybe it was re-injured a little along the way. I’ve tried to maintain it as much as possible. I’ve done everything I could to try and maintain and remain competitive.
You tried new things during your rehab, you said. Like what?
I tried different therapies, and I also tried new equipment, like the TrueForm treadmill. I used it for the first time when it was sprung on me at an event during the CrossFit regionals and loved it.
What has it done for you when it comes to running?
I just noticed my knee doesn’t swell up as bad as when I ran on the concrete outside. I probably wouldn’t be running as much if I didn’t have a TrueForm, which would significantly impact my conditioning…so I look at the TrueForm as an indispensable piece of equipment.
How do you incorporate the TrueForm into your workouts?
I’ll do maybe just running workouts and run intervals. Sometimes I’ll do workouts with it, like run 400 meters then do clean and jerks, or rope climb or pull-ups. Then I’ll do rounds of that. I do at least one to two intervals of strictly running on it and at least one workout a week on it.
How long have you been using it?
I’ve been on it for three to four years. It helped my knee tremendously by forcing me into better running form. I can actually feel it when I’m running on land. I can feel the heel strike hard on land. It makes you aware that you aren’t running properly.
Who do you think would benefit from this type of equipment most?
I would recommend it to anybody that can get one. I think it not only helps you teach your body how to run properly, but it lowers the impact on your joints. The convenience factor is nice, as well. It’s not big and bulky and since it doesn’t have a motor it’s actually pretty light and easy to move around.
How has training changed for you with age?
You have to be aware of your body. Can I go into the gym and crush myself day after day like I used to? No. I can’t. You have to be able to monitor yourself and what you focus on. I still feel competitive and I have a competitive nature.
Has anything else changed for you?
I am eating better. I’m trying to sleep better, and I’m not doing as much coffee. I’m doing more body work, more compressions. I’m trying everything now. There are so many different ways to recover and I try them all to find out what works best for me. It’s constant.
How do you think your age plays to your advantage at competitions?
Having the experience and not having quite as many nerves. At the end of the day I’m going to go out and do my best. Whatever happens, happens. It’s not the end of the world. I’m going to go out there and give it my all. The pressure isn’t there as much. It’s just experience.
You’re a dad, and so are other athletes. How do you balance that responsibility with your workouts?
It’s hard. It’s a constant struggle and balancing act just like anything in life. I try to be present in whatever it is I’m doing instead of thinking about the other thing while I’m doing one thing. While I’m with my kids, it’s their time. When I’m working out, it’s the same way, it’s all about working out. Just being present at whatever it is I’m doing. When you’re distracted, whatever it is you’re doing isn’t getting the attention.
What advice would you give to younger athletes seeking longevity?
Stretch. Stretch more than you think you should. Care about your nutrition. You can get away with eating like crap and not stretching as much now, but one day it will catch up and you’ll wish you did stretch and eat better.
What about your goals? How have they changed over the years?
My goals are the same. Perform to the best of my ability. Win the games. Have fun. And enjoy it.