collaboration

The knee bone is connected to the...

I’ve been battling an issue on and off for the past 6 years.

It’s my knee.

You see, it bothers me when I walk. It’s not a pain, it’s a sound. It clicks. And it’s really annoying. It clicks when I bend it, walk up stairs, wall down stairs, run, do a lunge. You get the visual. It hasn’t always been the problem. For a long time it just really hurt. It hurt so much that I went to PT, had an MRI, thought I was destined for surgery to repair something in there.  I’m too mobile to have a knee problem. I’ve got my Portuguese Water Dog Bowie in Agility training, I run, ski in the winter, work-out, hike, kick-box, you get the picture - activities that need a healthy knee.

When we have an issue with a body part (in this example, my knee), we should investigate the entire system of mechanics, not the first area that shows the wear and tear.

I’ve come to find out it’s all the parts that support that joint (in this case my knee joint) where the discovery should begin in order to isolate the weakness in performance. I didn’t understand this until my incredible Pilates/Massage Trainer Julia Hollas (Corpo Kinetic in Berkeley) redirected my thinking. When I took my first class with her, she asked, “What do you want to work out today?”. I said, “Oh, abs, my core, my fat under my arm, etc…”. Julia took one head-to-toe scan of my body as I stood there in my shorts and t-shirt and smiled, “Great, let’s start with your hips”. Hips.

I didn’t think I had any problem with my hips. They didn’t hurt, they worked like they were supposed to…until she began to “peel the onion” for me.

Because my hips were not strong, my large quads were working overtime (there are two/three sets of quad muscles, my large quads were fine it was my small inner-quad muscle (vastus medialis) right above the inner kneecap that wasn’t firing). And because the large quads did too much work, the hamstrings on the back of my leg were lazy and not doing their job supporting the knee…oh and let’s not forget, my feet were also doing too much work, so that the muscles around the knee weren’t firing because they relied on my two feet…

Who knew that walking and our knees were a part of an incredibly sophisticated network of cooperation and collaboration of my quads, hamstrings, glutes, feet, and hips. The eye-opener for me was that in order to get the knee performing and in its most healthy state again, Julia and I would be in a constant weekly struggle to break these over-use/under-use habits of different critical points of movement. It’s a constant process…a bit of a yin/yang. But it’s an incredible statement about how our body mechanics rely on a system of collaboration between individual sets of high-performing muscles/joints/tendons, etc…when if one team-member is working in overdrive, and others are less than optimal, everything can go to hell.  

Which brings me to this, the lesson in understanding your systems. When uncovering your systems, whether it be your body or your team at work, figure out how much effort you are spending to understand the underlying parts of the performance in each area (your knee, your team, channel, workstream, etc…). Someone has to continually have a handle on a macro-view of what’s going on to see where the tendencies are for strengths and weaknesses.  

Without someone like Julia (who has full-body knowledge) I never would have gotten to a place of understanding about the "whole" part, not just the "individual" parts. This is true in your work-life too. If you take a step out, and away from your systems, what do you see? Are there weaknesses in one place?  Many places? We tend to roll-up everything into a performance metric or benchmark, or we tend to look at individual metrics, but in reality, it's looking at every metric that then rolls into defining the whole, not just that uber benchmark (sales, revenue, customers, etc…).

I would love to hear your ways of tackling this total view of all of it, in your work, in your knee, in your life.

In the meantime, the knee saga continues...

Alison