Orthopaedics

Now this is the answer of the holy One of Israel: “You rejected my message, and you trust in violence and lies. This sin is like a crack that makes a high wall quickly crumble and shatter like a crushed bowl. There’s not a piece left big enough to carry hot coals or to dip out water.” The holy Lord God of Israel had told all of you, “I will keep you safe if you turn back to me and calm down. I will make you strong if you quietly trust me.” (Isaiah 30:12–15 CEV)

Bone contains amazing features of structural engineering, making it extremely strong, resilient, and able to absorb and redistribute high energy forces. Recall the anatomy of the tibia as the main weightbearing bone of the leg, for example, where the weight of the body through the femur in the thigh rests on the plateau of the tibia that extends posteriorly, behind the vertical line marking the center of the tibial shaft. This means that as forces transmitted downward through the lower extremity travel along the tibia, an imperceptible bend loads the posterior part of the tibial shaft in compression and the anterior portion in tension.

This is a perfectly functioning, God-desgined skeletal framework until that downward force is repetitively applied and the body can no longer re-distribute it. Examples include a runner running on hard surfaces, a dancer dancing on concrete floors, and a basketball player jumping repeatedly through hours of practices and games. Loaded again and again, the bone’s mineralized structure fatigues. If the activity causing the loading is not stopped, small cracks, or stress fractures, can occur. On x-rays of a tibia these are called “dreaded black lines,” and their presence means that the bone is weakened. Further loading when the injuring activity is not stopped may cause the bone to shatter all the way through its shaft, a far worse injury that is not easy to treat. Note that what causes the bigger fracture is a neglected series of small attacks, or microtrauma.

That progression of a tibial stress fracture is the exact situation Isaiah is describing about Israel in the passage above. Portrayed as a wall, God’s people had repeatedly let the forces of evil load their structure until a crack appeared. From there, without a significant adjustment in their activity, the wall came crashing down. Hopefully this metaphor doesn’t also apply to you and me, but we must consciously evaluate ourselves just as we might utilize nuclear or magnetic resonance imaging in orthopaedics to assess a bone’s structure. God can serve as the bone scan or MRI in our lives as we ask Him to look inside to reveal our pathology. Trust me, you don’t want a tibial shaft fracture. Neither do you want a life shaft fracture caused by inattention to repetitive microtrauma that weakens your structure. God’s treatment is to turn back to Him and quietly trust Him.

- Jeff Russell

E-KardíaGram: Sports Performance Edition is produced by The Kardía Foundation in association with Athletes in Action Sports Performance © 2018 The Kardía Foundation

We connect the Christian faith and healthcare, equipping Christian healthcare workers to integrate their faith and practice. www.kardia.org

Contact: sportsperformance@athletesinaction.org This electronic publication may be forwarded in its original format with proper credit given. Written by Jeffrey A. Russell, PhD, ATC

Subscribe to weekly devotionals: bit.ly/KardiaEKG