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Michelangelo's David and his cracked ankles

David’s Cracked Ankles

In Florence, Italy sits a monument representing the perfect beauty of the human form. Italian Renaissance artist Michelangelo created David in the 15th century. David is a marvel of marble sitting at 17 feet tall. It is the most famous statue in the world, receiving over a million visitors each year in the rotunda room. A variety of incidents damaged the statue over the years, including a broken arm, a cracked eyelid, and a missing toe. However, there is one problem that may serve to be its downfall: David's cracked ankles.

There are cracks in the ankles of Michelangelo’s David. The weakness was first discovered in the 19th century, but it wasn’t until a paper by Italian geoscientists was published in 2014 that the extent of the statue’s precariousness was fully understood: If the David were to be tilted 15 degrees, his ankles would fail.

- Sam Anderson, New York Times

The cause of this problem is twofold. Scholars believe that the piece of marble originally used was far from a perfect specimen. The stone became brittle and dried out before carving even began. The imported piece of marble traveled to Florence and laid out in the sun and rain for over 30 years before Michelangelo's work began. The second reason is that the center of gravity is not perfectly balanced, and actually lies just outside the stance of David's feet. Combined with seismic activity (earthquakes) in the area over the centuries, micro-cracks formed in the weakest part of the statue: the ankles. This seismic activity is also believed to be the reason the Tower of Pisa is the leaning Tower of Pisa.

You're Better Than David

Despite being considered the most perfect artistic representation of human form, the real human form is actually more perfect for one main reason. In both cases, problems grow exponentially when you have an unstable base. While David's cracked ankles worsen as a result of various forms of imbalances taking place over time, ours have the opposite reaction.

Our bodies can to shape, reform, and heal themselves. While this process is far from perfect, it is certainly better than the statue. We also have the ability to improve and guide this shaping, reforming, and healing process through specific rehabilitative exercises.

The hands of a sculptor at work

Our muscles, ligaments, and joints react to the forces placed upon them. We call this Wolfe's Law. This is the reason our muscles grow bigger and stronger when we workout. We place forces on our body and our body knows to strengthen the weak areas that are challenged by the forces. Some chiropractors call this "Innate Intelligence." It represents our bodies' ability to heal naturally without conscious effort. But, some conscious effort can vastly improve our outcomes.

Sculpt Your Own Body

If your ankles are cracking and your foundation is failing, no need to hire geologists and sculptors to strengthen your base. Sculpting the human form is done by doctors. We could also include nutritionists and trainers as well. The medium through which we work is biological. We analyze and examine which structures are failing you, and create strategies to bolster them.

As patients of my practice, you already know how practically every treatment plan I create includes rehabilitative exercise. This is because the importance of reinforcing our foundation cannot be overstated. As a man of principle, I'll even include an exercise in this article to help you do that. If you have ankle instability, here's a great exercise to help recover more quickly. Until next time, ciao!

So What Are They Going to Do about David?

If the main question you have after reading this is "what is gonna happen to David?" then I I have an answer: that they will be installing a seismic-detecting base for stabilization. Basically, the exact opposite of how you strengthen human ankles.