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Stephen Mayo | The Knee is Not the Problem

The Knee is Not the Problem

Oct. 8, 2023

About ten years ago, I began to experience persistent pain in my knee.  Having played sports for many years as a child and an adult, I figured this was just an inevitable side effect of wear & tear and getting older. My knees were bound to hurt, and I just needed to accept it.

Then I went to see a physical therapist, and what I learned changed my life.  The PT showed me that even though I was feeling the pain in my knee, there was nothing to fix there.  Rather, the muscles running down the side of my leg knee needed to be stretched.  After years of activity and insufficient care, the muscles had grown tight and lost their original elasticity.  Because they didn't stretch to the proper length, this put extra strain on the tendon connecting the muscle to my knee.  And that's why my knee was hurting.

After only a couple months of stretching and performing exercises to work out the knots, I was pain free and back to 100%.  And after ten years of light maintenance, I'm as active as ever.

This experience taught me two important lessons: first, the human body is an adaptable wonder, capable of extraordinary healing and recovery with the proper care. And second, it reminded me that I frequently can't solve a problem by looking only at the visible symptom.  The root issue often lies somewhere else.

This lesson has many applications beyond human anatomy. A couple examples:

  1. If you find yourself making more careless errors than usual, it's possible you just need a reminder to be more diligent.  But more likely, there's an underlying issue that's preventing you from applying your usual attention to detail. For example, you're distracted by a personal matter or another project, or you're getting less sleep than usual. 
  2. If you'd like the people you manage (or your children) to be more open and share what's on their mind, it's possible they just needed to be reminded to speak candidly.  But more likely, they are holding back because they've learned from your past behavior that talking openly is dangerous (perhaps you react sharply or use their ideas against them).


When we have the patience and curiosity to identify the root cause, our remedies are more likely to be effective and long-lasting.


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