Pro hockey player Chad Nehring almost stopped being a player when a nasty hit out on the ice led him to a career-ending injury. Fortunately stumbling into Blair Chiropractic, he was able to get back to being ranked 14th in Germany after his Blair upper cervical adjustment. Chad takes us into the journey of how got back up from that tough part in his life. He shares how Blair Chiropractic helped him with that while giving advice to those who have been dealing with the same trauma.
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Pro Hockey Player Chad Nehring on How Blair Chiropractic Saved His Career
Welcome to the show, Chad. I’m so excited that you’re here with me. I want people to hear your story because it’s so compelling. I meet a lot of athletes that think that once they get the Blair care, they can’t work out, they can’t train and that isn’t your story. That isn’t what happens. I’m just so happy to have you.
It’s great to be here. I’m looking forward to chatting about my experiences with you about my injury and getting back and be able to play.
Let’s go back to you as a kid. You are from Canada.
I’m from a small town of Springside, Saskatchewan with about 400 people where hockey is the number one sport. All you do all day is think and play hockey. I started at a young age of two and a half years old and here we are at 31 and still going.
You started on skates at two and a half. That’s amazing because most kids are toddling. They aren’t able to walk well at that point.
It was almost more of putting the skates on your feet and your dad drag you around the ice before you can even walk.
You grew up playing hockey your entire life. When did you know that you wanted to do this professionally?
Throughout high school, I started playing football as well. I was playing on the junior hockey team in my town and football. I got good at football and I had some offers from Canadian universities to play. That was when I needed to make a decision on which is going to be hockey or football. I got injured on my senior year of football and I thought that it’s tough on the body. I was like, “Let’s maybe go to the hockey route.” I played a couple of more years at junior and then got the college scholarship to play. When they give you $100,000 for free to go to school and play hockey, it’s a no brainer and it just kept blossoming from there.
In your opinion, football was rougher than hockey. I’ve seen some of the things that happen on a hockey rink.
Hockey is faster for sure but I just feel that maybe it’s fewer people. You know where everyone is coming from hockey, where you don’t have much in football. Every time I watch a football game, I cringe with the arms and the knees and the ankles and stuff and like, “I chose the right sport.”
I watched the Super Bowl and I felt like I needed to be on the sidelines and hand people my card because of the amount of injury that they suffer from. The whole developing CTE situation with post-concussion syndrome, that’s a big part of your story. It’s how I met you. You got this $100,000 education. What college did you go to?
It’s a smaller school in Northern Michigan called Lake Superior State University. They don’t have other D-I sports except for hockey. It’s a big hockey school. We played in the CCHC at the time. It was with Michigan and Ohio State and Notre Dame. It was a good league and it was a good spot to play.Maybe time helps, but we can even get to another level of healthiness if we don’t wait. Click To Tweet
Did you get picked up the next step, which would be leading into pro hockey here in the states?
As my senior ended, I got a call from a team in Boise, Idaho and that was the ECHL, which is the East Coast Hockey League. It’s an AA version. We’ve got the AAA version, the AHL and then the NHL who’s the top league. It was AA version and I was like, “I might as well give it a try and check what this procedure is all about and finally get paid to play hockey.” I started there and create a career and came over here. I believe this is year nine of pro hockey.
It is in Germany, correct?
Yeah, it’s in Germany. This is my second year here now. I decided to make the move and enjoy my European hockey.
I met you because we have some mutual friends in common and on the off season, you live in Las Vegas.
I played one of my pro hockey years in Las Vegas. In that year, I bought a little vacation spot there. That’s my spot I go back to in the summertime and that’s where we met through mutual friends.
I have a lot of patients that travel from Vegas over to Orange County, which is about a four-and-a-half-hour drive because of the Blair work. That particular weekend, I was going on a vacation. It’s a little getaway with my husband and my friends that usually drive to me wanting me to come to check them out. I said, “No problem.” I ended up going over to Barb’s house and she’s the sweetest woman and she’s a mom to everybody. As soon as I met her, she was an instant mother to me. She was there and Jerry was there and he was saying, “I’ve got this buddy. He’s had this nasty concussion. Do you think you can help him?” Without being able to do a full exam and take all the necessary X-rays that we take to get a proper correction, I was like, “Let me meet him and see what I have to say.” We met upstairs in Barb’s massage room.
You just felt a few spots and you’re like, “I can help you.” I was like, “God bless you.” I was going down an ugly path. It worked out great for my career.
Take me back to that time. I met you and you were in the midst of dealing with this nasty post-concussion syndrome. What happened that led you to being in that massage room that day?
It was another hockey game. In the third period, I was coming down the middle ice a little bit of head down and I released the puck and took a bad hit. I sent you one of the videos. I was laying on the ice. I knew where I was and I was just like, “Something is not right.” I see some stars flying around and something wasn’t right. I get up and I start skating off the ice and sit on the bench. I was like, “I don’t think I feel normal.” Hockey players are known as tough guys. They try to fight through things, but this one, I didn’t know quite where I was and this and that. I was like, “I better shut this one down.”
I left that game thinking that sometimes those happen. You get good sleep, you wake up and you feel good the next day and you’re like, “There’s no problem.” This day and age of documented concussions and neck stuff, it’s not just you’re good to go. You got to back off and relax and see what’s up. We did an MRI, we did some stuff and nothing was found. It’s like, “You should be good to go, but we don’t know what’s wrong.” I know in my own head what’s wrong with me. There’s something wrong. It was one of those little pressure to play where I was like, “I’m not ready to play.” I can’t play. It leads you down a tough path.
You’ll have a lot with the neck and you could see more about it, but with the neck, it creates so much tightness in the shoulders and back and chest. Then it shoots up to the head and all this. It was a little bit of a head injury along with the neck. Overall, it’ll lead you down a path on whatever you can do to make yourself feel a little better that day, which is not a proud moment, whether it was medicines or drinking or whatever to feel good. That’s what you would do and it leads down to a very tough path where you see these people opening up mental health these days. Luckily, these people open up because at the end of the day, you’ll sit there and still doing this stuff but you’re like, “People talk about it.” I was able to tell friends and talk a little bit like, “I’m not good right now. I don’t feel right.” I don’t know what it is that we need to get done, but we need it to get done.The goal is to continue to improve and get better and better. Click To Tweet
I have a very good friend named Dr. Thomas Alfreda in Las Vegas. He has a private practice there and we’ve been best friends since the year I played in Las Vegas. He was our team doctor. I can text and call him anything whenever I need and he’ll help me and give me advice. He was on the process and he’s like, “Chad, just get home so I can take care of you.” I know that he’s going to do everything he can for me. I got home. I was able to see him and he did everything he could possibly do. That’s right around the time I was meeting you. I would ask 100 people to help me. What I ask was my savior for my career and my body. I met you and you said, “I can help you.” I said, “When is your next opening? I’m coming.” Now, we’re here.
It’s the right time, right moment and right person. I’m so thankful that your doctor in Vegas was able to convince you to take the time off and go on disability. The things that they were offering you weren’t to be the solution and you knew that. When you drove over from Vegas to come to the office, I remember being confident because I had done a preliminary leg exam on you. I knew what was going on the upper part of your neck. You sent me the video of the incident and I’m going to include that in this blog for the people who want to check it out so that they can see the hit that could have ended your career. It was going that direction and then we were able to assess you from a functional standpoint. We did some concussion evaluation forms and we gave you a very specific Blair Upper Cervical adjustment. It just transformed within weeks. You were back to training, not having the gnarly headaches. You weren’t having the depression. You didn’t feel that you needed to dull the pain with alcohol. It was a remarkable transformation. We didn’t have a lot of time because your statement to me was, “I need to get back to Germany to play.”
August was the time to get back and I believe I’ve seen you in April or May. Another big thing was the anxiety was out of control too. I was like, “Do I need medicine for this? Do you think your treatment is going to help?” You said, “That anxiety will be gone.” I don’t think I’ve had anxiety since that day of my treatment with you. It’s crazy about how you explained it like, “They’re not working together. You’re worried about it and now you’re panicking and now everything is working together.” I had a friend staying in San Diego. It’s was Steve who is another pro hockey guy. I was able to go stay at his house for that week because you said, “Maybe stay around and then come see me and then go back to Vegas.”
Those days in San Diego, it was funny and pretty much like everywhere someone walked, I’ve got to move my whole body with my head because it went through. Those three days were stiff, but starting that next Monday, I was full-on to training again. It was a breath of fresh air. You go for a nice jog and the weather is good. You feel normal human again and you’re like, “This is a life-changer.” I saw that in our sport or in many other sports with mental health and stuff, once you enter those paths, you might not come back. It still took a few months. When I saw you, there were still little issues that I text you about. Then when I have seen you for checkups, the large number of problems that I had slowly eliminated every day as I got better and better, which is world-changing.
This time last 2018, you were wondering how you were going to survive, let alone play hockey. Now, you ranked 14th in the league in Germany.
I’m having a nice year feeling good. Our team is sliding right now, but overall for the season, we’re doing quite well. I couldn’t ask for a better season in that aspect compared to what I was coming in with.
It’s stuff like this that keeps me going. It’s people like you who had an incident or trauma, whether it’s physical, mental, emotional, and they’re going down this path. I can intervene and apply the specific art and science of Blair Chiropractic. I can make the correction and then watch their lives go 180 degrees in the opposite direction in a way of health. That’s exactly why I get up every day because this stuff jazzes me up and now we get to talk about it. What is your advice to athletes or people that have had suffered from post-concussion?
Maybe I say too many things once in a while, but I’m a guy that speaks my mind. I’m open about what happened in my injury and getting the right help and this and that. Anyone that ever had issues, I always tell them my story. I explained what happened to me and how I don’t think I was going to play again or do training again and stuff like that. I always let them know like, “Here’s the information if you ever need to see someone. If you’re going to have issues, it’s life-changing.” I also had a head and neck injury and I kept dealing with the injury, however, I started playing the game. We had a very good medical staff where I’m getting a massage every day. Everything is staying loose from the play, but nothing was totally fixed. I could get through that week because we had such people taking care of you that they made you ready to play where I still think there were still some issues in the neck area. It has been from all the football hits and all the hockey hits. You cleaned up years of damage.
I messaged you one time and I said, “I can’t wait to get back and come see you again because I feel good overall.” I’ve taken some hits this year, of course. We have a physio in the next town and every once in a while, I go see him. When he finds spots in my neck, he gives massage and puts them out. I feel better the next day already. I know that you know what you’re doing. I’m excited to get back. I’m healthy but I don’t think I’m 100% normal. Maybe time helps, but we can even get to another level of healthiness. I’m praying that I stay healthy the rest of the season and get back healthy and then come to see you again to continue that treatment.
I’m so glad you brought up the previous trauma because it is one adjustment and then you hold it and then you heal. It’s not the most immediate trauma that was the biggest thing. It’s all the trauma that led up to it that made that specific trauma be bad. It’s the layers. If you’ve had one concussion, you get a second one and get the third one. It takes less force to make it have a bigger issue. It’s something that addresses previous trauma and then getting adjusted keeps you stable so that you can encounter those forces and have the ability to have a resistance to it. There’s nothing more that I want than to get you back to the states healthy and see if your head is still on straight. So far, we’ve been doing good with that.
I always mention to people that if you have any head-neck injury or your pain, go see you. There’s no reason not to. A lot of people are a little nervous dealing with those injuries. I was at a point that if there were 100 people saying they can help, I would have gone and seen every person until I got help. I was at a point that I knew what path I was going down instantly if I didn’t get help. The year before I was like, “It’s sore but I could still battle through it.” A lot of people are in that stage and I was just like, “Go see her. It’s okay. Just go see her. Get home in summer and go see her.” You feel okay right now, but why don’t you want to feel perfect? That’s the stage I’m at. I still want to get better and better. I think I’m good, but if I take a big hit again, maybe I’m to square one. I’m good enough to play, but I think I can be better.
The goal is to continue to improve and get better and better. I can’t wait to get you back home and see where you’re at and see what happens in the future. From not even being sure that you could play to having one of your best seasons and then looking towards the future of improving. That’s a remarkable thing. I get to be a part of that journey with you. I’m so thankful that you were able to come on the show. I know somebody is going to be blessed by this conversation and they’re going to have an answer that they were looking for. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me, share your story and let people know that Blair chiropractic is something that needs to be a part of the healthcare.If you know and you're confident about something, then everything is fine. Click To Tweet
It’s not just for athletes. It’s for any issues with car accidents or anything like that. Any physical or if you sleep wrong sometimes and your neck isn’t right, you’re not right. You’ve heard me talk about it too much. I’m a big question guy like, “This doesn’t feel right.” You’re like, “That’s normal. That’s okay.” It was good through the whole process of you being hands-on and being able to tell me. That’s one of the biggest things is if you know and you’re confident about something, then everything is fine. Even I have to wait five hours and I’m panicking all the time, you are so good to me along the process. For my career, I can’t thank you enough for all that. I hope someone can use help as well because it’s life-changing.
Thank you again, Chad. You just have a killer season. I know you’re getting ready to do another tournament soon. You guys have fun. Be safe and we’ll get you back to the state soon enough.
Thank you so much.
About Chad Nehring
Chad started skating when he was 2.5 years of age. He played minor hockey in his hometown of Springside, Saskatchewan, Canada, population 400. He few up playing junior hockey in Yorkton, the next town over. From there he received a college scholarship to Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 4 years and an exercise science degree later he moved on to play professionally.
Chad started in the East Coast Hockey League for 4 years including the states of Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, and South Carolina. He moved on to the American Hockey League for 2 years in Hartford, Connecticut. Then he signed his first ever National Hockey League contract with the Ottawa Senators. I played 2 exhibition games then moved back to the AHL in Binghamton, New York. From there he decided to move over to Europe and signed a 2-year contract in the top league in Germany. From his grandfathers’ heritage, he became a German citizen. He is currently in my second full season in Germany ranking 14th in the league.