There was a song I used to sing when I was much younger that went something like this: “The foot bone’s connected to the…knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the… thigh bone….” I would keep on going until I reached the head bone. I never learned the real lyrics and I probably sang them differently each time, but I knew the basic idea: Every part of our body is connected.
I sometimes joke that running will make you really healthy if it doesn’t kill you first. The truth is that unless you are blessed with the perfect build and form, injuries come with the territory. A while back, I had a nagging knee pain that just wouldn’t go away. Although it didn’t stop me from running, it meant that I walked around after running in a rather uncomfortable position. Just bending down to pick up one of my children was quite painful. I started poking around on the Internet searching for a way to get rid of my discomfort. Nothing seemed to work.
I then came across an article that suggested that most knee pain can be eliminated by strengthening the…hip muscles. “Hip muscles?” I wondered. “What does that have to do with my knees?” I read on. The author explained that knee pain is often an indication that other muscles are not strong enough and that the knees are working too hard to pick up the slack. Turns out that while running is great for certain muscles, other ones don’t grow stronger, leading to an imbalance. Left alone, this leads to injury.
This got me thinking about where else there might be an imbalance in life. Often we concentrate on the areas in which we are strong while letting the other areas further atrophy. For some of us, it might be emphasizing our relationship with G-d at the expense of our relationship with other people, or even ourselves. For others, it might be the reverse. There are those who run to do things for others, while neglecting to take care of themselves. While it is good to work on our strengths, we must be sure not to neglect our weaknesses.
As for me, each time I go to the gym, I spend a few minutes strengthening my hip muscles. The knee pain is gone. I’m trying to work on balance in my own life as well. As there doesn’t seem to be a machine at the gym which helps with that, I guess it’s all up to me.
Pesach Sommer is married and has seven children. He is a rebbe at The Yeshiva of Flatbush. He enjoys reading, writing and running.