One young Olympic gymnast I treated sustained a stress fracture a few weeks before the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. When I explained the bone-stimulating treatment that had been chosen, I told her she had an important role to play during the recovery. I described the time she was to undergo therapy every day as a quiet time, a time to visualize the healing. I encouraged her to imagine the bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) at work depositing new tissue and maturing and hardening into osteocytes that would heal the fracture, creating a restored bone, rich in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. This technique is not unlike the visualization efforts of pediatric patients with cancer who are encouraged to imagine their immune cells gobbling up cancer cells like Pac Man swallows his enemies. Not every visualization results in an Olympic gold medal, but this dedicated young athlete, aided by the unflagging support of her parents and coach, her youth, and a healthful diet enriched with additional but not excessive multiple vitamins and minerals, went on in a few weeks to become one of the members of the gold medal—winning U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team. Her youth was a bonus not only because she was healthy and extremely fit but also because she was open to the possibility that focusing on healing could better the energy producing bone-stimulating treatment and ready her for world-class competition.
The most complex joint in the human body, the knee, can elevate you to king of the world—or at least king of the marathon—or it can, with kneeling and bowing, place you in homage to those around you. If you have ever had a knee injury or ever studied anatomy, you probably have marveled at its mechanics.