Sam Bradford and I have something in common. We both experienced ankle sprains this month. Unfortunately, his occurred in a much cooler fashion – during an NFL game in front of millions of rabid football fans. Mine happened when I was running down steps at home.
Now, I’ve rolled an ankle at least a dozen times throughout my life, so I wasn’t any stranger to the recovery process. This time, however, things were different. The pain didn’t dissipate throughout the day. Instead, it gradually become more intense. The area around my foot swelled immensely, and even the slightest bit of pressure on my foot intensified the pain.
Naturally, I adhered to the R.I.C.E. principles of treatment – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. I expected to feel fine in a day or so, but the swelling only got worse. Bruising set in, and my foot began turning a variety of dark purply colors. I started wondering if I might have actually broken a bone.
Fortunately, after one week of hopping and hobbling around, I was able to start walking normally again. Then something interesting happened… I noticed pain in my right knee cap. A few hours later, pain in my left knee. The day after that, my left hip started to ache, followed by my right. Soon after, my right knee again, only this time it was on the side. From here, stiffness was evident in my low back and pelvis.
While unpleasant, these symptoms were demonstrating to me exactly how the body accommodates to change. Since I hadn’t been walking equally on both feet like normal, my body had to make some adjustments to help me get around. The entire lower half of my body got involved. Foot bones, ankles, knees, hips, and even spinal bones adapted and changed ever-so-slightly to help keep me mobile.
Since I was putting more demand on my healthy left foot/ankle, it had to call in “reinforcements” from other joints and muscles of the body to assist. The byproduct of all this was pain and discomfort associated with compensation.
I’m sharing this with you today because the body always tries to compensate for the crap we put it through (junk food, stress, trauma, injuries, etc). Compensations are painful at times, but it’s important to learn that they’re a secondary effect.
Compensations come in different shapes and sizes… Headaches, neck pain, digestive problems and sleep trouble aren’t always primary conditions asking to be treated. They’re often the result of some other change in the body – one that deserves more attention.
That why it’s important for you and your doctor to isolate the root of the problem and not just treat the effects. If you’re suffering from a chronic health issue that hasn’t responded to conventional medical treatments, there’s a possibility that you’re treating the wrong problem.