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Don't Settle - An Athlete's Perspective.

Haylie Burton - Life Saving Athlete

Sport has always been a large part of my life. Born and raised into the swimming world, I found a lifelong love and appreciation for the water. It didn’t take long for my passion in the pool to expand to the beach – running, swimming, board and ski paddling found a spot in my heart as I was exposed to the world of lifesaving sport very young. I was eager for the day I could compete for Canada and, at 16, pursued that dream as part of the National Youth Team competing at the World Championships. My passion for the water and passion for sport has only evolved over my life, but it hasn’t always been an easy ride.

Starting my varsity swim career at the University of Guelph, I began experiencing increasingly disruptive low back pain. With a deep low back ache and a sharp pain in my tailbone, it hurt to run, sit, even sleep. Eventually I couldn’t swim or do much of anything without pain. Despite being in arguably the best shape of my life, it became too consuming and at the end of my second year I took time out of the pool. My time off brought no improvement – only frustration from not being in the water. When I started training again, I was determined to get back in shape and move forward, but my pain persisted. Advised by a chiropractor, I had scans done that showed a small fracture in my sacrum. At that point I was advised not to train past pain. Months of minimal activity and still no improvement in pain, so I began exploring more options. I saw numerous therapists, tried countless treatments, and although some offered moments of relief nothing stuck. It was taking a huge toll on my mental health – I’d spent months unable to do the things I love, still experiencing the same pain, making no progress.

After starting to take matters back into my own hands, trying to train again despite no real solution to my pain, I stumbled upon the Instil team. Kristin and the team had such a unique and all-encompassing approach to treatment – I felt they were fully invested in my recovery and finding what worked best for me. I made huge strides in my recovery working with them over the first year. I found relief from pain, I was able to resume training with intensity, and have bettered myself as an athlete. I went from floating up and down the pool for no more than 40 minutes a day to full 18-hour training weeks.

This is and was not a quick fix. My improvement has not been linear. My back is still a work in progress, but the Instil team keeps exploring new approaches. I’ve come in voicing frustrations when things aren’t working and when I do, I’m always met with a determined attempt to find a different angle and a continually innovative approach. The standard of care and the personal investment this team brings gives me reassurance that I have an amazing group of professionals helping me manage my pain and continue working towards pain free movement, in and outside of my athletic career.

I cannot imagine what life would be like not having the ability to pursue my passions and continue striving for better. I am very fortunate to have found a team whose values align with mine and who offers such all-encompassing support. The Instil team helped me take control back from my injury. I am so grateful for their continued investment and support and I’m proud to have them as part of my team.

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