Tough Love

I’m here for some tough love today.

I work in a sports-based clinic, and while we are by no means an athletes-only environment, we do tend to attract an active population of patients. In fact, active-lifestyle patients are the reason I became a chiropractor in the first place. I had finished my Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Calgary and was unsure of my next steps- my boyfriend’s cousin was a chiropractor and needed front desk help, so I began working there and my path became clear. A year later, I packed up my worldly possessions, moved across the country to attend CMCC in Toronto, and (insert cliché here) the rest is history.  Fitness and health is what I’m all about; I don’t just talk the talk, I walk the walk, and being active is one of my core values. So perhaps it comes no surprise that I ended up working at a clinic that follows the same principles.

Let’s get back to the tough love part:

You cannot expect your body to be pain-free if you do not treat it well. Please read that again, and hear me out. If you sit at work all day and do not incorporate fitness into your life, there is only so much I can do for your back pain. If you carry extra weight and ignore your rehabilitation exercises, there is only so much I can do for your knee pain. If your workplace ergonomics are terrible and you work 60 hours per week, there is only so much I can do for your neck pain.

Listen, we’re in this together. In fact, I pride myself on getting people feeling better very quickly. I will do my part, but please, you have to do yours too.

Tough love can be confrontational and irritating and uncomfortable, so if you’re feeling that now, please accept my very-Canadian apology, and make a plan. Make a plan to take charge of your health. As we age, our healing rates slow down. Cell turnover drops and recovery slows.

Make a plan to move more, for movement is the fountain of youth.

It doesn’t have to be running or CrossFit or yoga (my personal favourites), but it has to raise your heart rate, stress your muscles, and put your joints in motion.

Short and sweet. Black and white. To the point.

Get moving.

Move image

We’re creating their “normal.”

My son had a flag football game on Saturday morning.  I snuggled in a blanket on the sidelines with my daughter and we played with colouring books and hand clapping games while we watched him run around.  He’s only eight, and his teammates are in the six to eight-year-old range, so it’s a bit of organized chaos unfolding amidst a sea of mouthguards and football cleats.  Flags flying, kids running, and footballs dropping everywhere.  It’s childhood fun at its best.

The game was scheduled from 11:30am-12:30pm, so we packed snacks to eat at the field to tide us over for a later lunch at home.  Both of my kids are snackers, as am I- in fact, our sporting event snack bag looks more like a full grocery bag than a few snacks thrown into the bottom of a purse.  I’ve always been that way; I’m the mom with a full cooler at BlueJays games and a packed lunch for an afternoon at the park.  Nutrition is important to me, and I find that I have far less control when purchasing food than I do when I pack my own.  Food brought from home allows me to better manage the preservatives, the additives, the sodium, and the fat content of typical take-out on-the-run options.

When the game finished, we began to pack up our gear.  My children are still young enough that we usually pack like we’re going away overnight when in fact we’re only gone for the afternoon.  I gathered our blanket, our games, our snacks, our extra layers, and we began to leave.  My husband, who is the assistant coach for my son’s team, mentioned that team snacks were being handed out further down the field.  The post-game snack is a big part of the fun in young children’s sports, so my son hurried down to claim his share.  He came back with two things:



I cringed on the outside and raged on the inside.

Now, I don’t consider myself to be unreasonably strict with my nutritional standards.  Yes, I believe in high-quality food, and yes, I try to minimize my family’s intake of processed junk, but I’m not on the all-organic, all-homemade, no-sugar, no-yellow #5 train either.  I like to live in the world of moderation, with a heavy emphasis on fruits and vegetables.  All that being said, “normal” is based on one’s perception, and my household normal does not include multi-coloured goldfish crackers and KoolAid jammers.

As is always the case in parenting, I weighed my options.  I let my son have some of the above, and my daughter had a taste too.  We threw the rest out and we had a good, long conversation on the way home about properly fueling our bodies so that they can be at their healthiest and help us to perform and feel at our best.  As a lifelong athlete, I have learned first-hand the effects that nutrition can have on athletic performance, and that’s why I find it particularly troubling that these snacks are being given in a situation in which we are promoting fitness and sport.  The irony is not lost on me.  The same could be said for school cafeteria and vending machine choices- if we expect our children to perform at their best, physically and mentally, why are we choosing these types of snacks?

A pre-cut veggie tray and a block of cheese would be no less convenient.  A bag of apples and a box of fig bars would be no less costly.  A watermelon and some granola packets would be no less tasty.  We can change the food industry with the choices we make with our dollars, and we can change our children’s well-being with the choices we make with their food.

Please, let’s choose wisely.  After all, we’re creating their “normal.”

A Healthy Back

“A Healthy Back: for Crossfit and for LIFE”….. this is the presentation I’m doing at Crossfit Altitude on Thursday evening, (February 6th at 7:00pm).  It’s going to be a hands-on, active-participation, lots-of-questions-and-answers event and I’ve capped the registration at 20 people so that we can have some great learning opportunities and hopefully some ‘a-ha’ moments.

The reason that I wanted to host this talk is that I’ve seen an increase in the number of lower back injuries in my practice as of late.  “But you’re a chiropractor” you say, “don’t you always see lower back injuries?”  The answer is yes, but my practice is centred around athletes and active people, so I see a whole host of other injuries as well; from ankle sprains and elbow pain to migraine headaches and knee problems.  Unfortunately, back injuries seem to have claimed the top spot for the past few months.  So the point of this event is education……. leading to prevention.

What’s the plan, you say?Anatomy-of-the-back

  • We’re going to talk about anatomy.  If you don’t understand the components of your lower back, how can you understand how to keep it healthy?
  • We’re going to talk about the three most common back injuries that I see in my practice, and how they relate to Crossfit specifically.
  • We’re going to move; we’re going to stretch, and strengthen, and talk about tips and suggestions that you can implement into your everyday life.
  • We’re going to have lots of time to chat; I want participants to go home with all of their back pain/injury/health questions answered.

One of my very first blog posts, that you can view here, was surrounding the misconception that Crossfit causes injuries.  I argue that injuries are simply a part of sport, and that the benefits of an active lifestyle far outweigh the risks.  I feel very passionate and definitive about this statement.

This event is currently full, but if the interest is there,  I would be happy to host another one.  Or to come and talk to your group about injury prevalence and prevention, specific to your situation.

As long as we are using our bodies, we need to take care of them!

See you on Thursday.


Here’s the associated blurb:

Crossfit does not cause lower back injuries, but poor form and weak mechanics do! Do you want to learn how to PREVENT and FIX common lower back injuries? Do you want to avoid that nagging post-deadlift ache? That chronic prolonged-sitting pain? That constant I’m-sore-until-I-warmup discomfort? Then come and join Dr. Ashley Worobec as she talks about common lower back injuries, how to prevent them, and how to fix them! This will be a hands-on active-participation seminar, so come dressed for movement! You will go home with a new appreciation of your lower back and some tips and tricks to keep it healthy and strong so that you can continue to Crossfit (and live) pain-free.