I’ve been playing floor hockey in Calgary at least once a week for the last 6 years. I thought I knew a lot about taking care of my body for that level of activity, but I started experiencing severe lower back pain. My ignorance almost cost me my passion…
I considered myself an healthy 30-year-old. I was always very conscientious of what I ate and how much exercise I was getting, but after being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 28, my routine took an even stronger turn towards balanced health. I worked with a nutritionist to tailor my diet to my new blood sugar requirements – and to make sure I was intaking enough calories to support my level of activity. I made sure I was getting enough sleep at night. I made some changes to my work schedule so that I could manage my time without stress.
When I started to experience a dull, throbbing lower back pain, I didn’t think much of it. Maybe it was a tweaked muscle; I treated myself with hot/cold therapy. As the weeks went on, however, the pain got worse. The simple act of walking became a chore that had me gritting my teeth. I went to see my doctor, who prescribed me anti-inflammatory medication and a follow up in a week…except I didn’t want to take more pills.
As I pulled back into my driveway and realized getting out of the car was going to hurt, I wondered if maybe, despite all of my best efforts, 30 was my breaking point. After all, the diabetes thing was out of left field and really sucked. Maybe it was just the hand I was dealt.
My girlfriend wasn’t convinced. “You need to go see a chiropractor. Give it a shot.”
I was skeptical, but desperate. So I found Dr. Abdulla through a referral from a friend and scheduled an appointment.
She wasn’t at all what I had expected. Within a few minutes, I liked her. She was mellow and approachable. She took me through a long list of questions as she tried to piece together what was happening, and it was obvious to me that she could understand how distressed I was from the lower back pain.
She had me lie face down on the examination table. “Relax your legs,” was her first cue.
My foot was rotating awkwardly. She continued her exam, drawing my attention to my hamstrings (which were tight even when I was relaxed) and then my hips. She explained that the pain was stemming from a rotation in my hips, which caused my legs to compensate more than they should. This was causing my muscles to contract, which was causing the lower back pain. It was all relative. The solution was simple. “We’ll work on your hip alignment – and I’m going to give you a series of exercises to do to strengthen your hip flexors, and stretch out your legs before and after you do any sort of running.”
I took two weeks off from all physical activity except my exercises. The lower back pain started to decrease significantly within days. Finally, I went back to hockey and was careful to work my legs before the game with light running, and after the game with specific leg, hamstring and hip stretches — and…no pain! I was like a kid on Christmas, telling anyone who would listen.
1. Pain is NOT normal, no matter what your age
And really, pain shouldn’t be something you have to ‘accept’ or ‘deal with’ or ‘manage’ — and I can’t believe I was almost ready to give up playing hockey because of it.
2. Chiropractic care isn’t limited to one kind of therapy
I came to Dr. Abdulla without knowing what was in store, but assuming she’d give me some spiel about the misalignment of my spine. Instead, I realized the resources that she had to identify and treat the root of my lower back pain were well beyond that. She has also become my go-to for how to better care for my body.
3. You can never know too much about how your body works and how your daily activities are affecting it
As someone who likes to stay active, I can appreciate that there’s a lot I can learn about how my activities are affecting my body — and how I can continue to care for it in a way that compliments those activities – and not limit them!
I thought myself an active, healthy individual. The truth is I didn’t educate myself enough on the way the activities I was participating in were affecting my body, and the price I almost paid was too high. You always hear people boast about their nutritionist or their personal trainer – but I realized that having a chiropractor who understands my lifestyle and can help me care for my body is just as important.