Everything is connected…I learn my lesson the hard way.
This is a reprint from my private email newsletter, which is written for patients. This was the most widely read article from my practice email list in 2017. It also happens to be the only article where I describe what a clumsy doofus I can be.
I woke up in pain last week. A deep soreness in my legs and low back.
It was odd. Unusual for me.
And very annoying. At the time, I was on vacation with my family near Lake Michigan.
So, I did what so many do…I tried to remember what I had done in the few days before this aching morning…
Did I sleep funny? Did I eat something weird? Did I hurt myself lifting something and not realize it? What happened to me?
Walking on the beach! The sand! For a little while I explained my pain on walking several miles on the beach, barefoot. I’m not used to that. But then I remembered that I had done the same thing for the past two summers, and I didn’t experience this pain.
After doing the usual routine of grabbing coffee, and greeting the kids, and staring into the refrigerator, something caught my attention.
My big toe was screaming. Screaming so loud I felt my entire body seize up! It felt like someone was sticking a knife into my toe…But the only thing that happened was my toe had lightly grazed the bottom of a cabinet.
I looked down to see a band-aid I had forgotten about.
I remembered back to a few days earlier…I was walking outside, barefoot, and had quickly leaped onto a concrete step, only to miss that step. I kicked the concrete, jammed two toes, and tore a chunk out my my big toe. I said some choice words, and danced around feeling really stupid.
Luckily I didn’t break anything, but the tip of my toe hurt! I couldn’t touch it to anything.
And without realizing it, I began to walk with a slightly gimpy walk, taking pressure off the tip of my toe by pulling my toes back and walking more on my heel. And that walk lasted the rest of the day, and all of the next.
Until I woke up two days later in pain.
The sensitive toe changed my foot. Changing my ankle. Which changed my knee. Which went into my hip, and then the low back…until I was walking different enough to make my low back and legs ache. Everything is connected!
If you don’t quite believe it, consider putting a small pebble in your shoe and seeing how you feel a couple days later.
You see, I didn’t injure my low back. And I didn’t injure my hip or my knees, or anywhere else in my legs. But these placed ached, simply from the pebble in my shoe – in my case, the sensitive big toe.
What does this tell us? Three things
The true source of the breakdown isn’t always where pain decides to show up. I hurt my toe, but that meant pain in my low back.
One of the most costliest mistakes our health system makes is to only look for the source of pain where the pain is being felt!
Anything that changes our walk can have a major, major effect on what we feel. That includes pelvis, hips, and legs moving in and out of balance as we go through our care plan.
If your leg has been a half inch short for decades, then after an adjustment it is suddenly balanced…That can cause some temporary discomfort as you heal.
Likewise that discomfort can come back as you lose your alignment from stress or neglect.
We really are incredible pieces of living machinery that require mechanical tune-ups.
We are able to adapt to the most extreme situations, but we’re also sensitive to the smallest shifts in our frame and structure.
Paying attention to the balance of the head, neck, back, hips, and legs is important, as many problems are actually secondary to a primary issue in alignment, affecting the spine and nerve system.
Any high performance machinery requires a tune up. Some more than others!