Thursday, October 24, 2013

So I Figured Out Those Damn Muscle Spasms...

I've had like the biggest epiphany A-HA moment this week. Or moment(s) maybe I should say... Craziest story...

So last week I posted that I hoped I wasn't jinxing myself but that my running had been going well no injuries no whammies, etc. And then wouldn't you know it, two days later I woke up and out of the blue my hip feels all tight. Um, what!?? I did not understand. And over the course of the next ~48 hours it just got worse and worse to the point where I could not walk without limping, nor could I lift my leg. Like, at all. It even hurt to lay in bed as I was trying to sleep.

My range of motion in that left hip joint was severely restricted. It felt to me as though every muscle surrounding that hip joint was in such a state of spasm that the bone wasn't even seated correctly in the joint socket. I went about all my typical mobility drills and exercises and rolled it all out as best I could but felt like I wasn't even making a dent.

In a near panic I called SOS to my ART/chiro doc but of course he had no openings until next week. Acupuncture to the rescue! Magic Man did what he could, found and released a couple of the most obvious spasms but I limped out of his office still without full range of motion and felt incredibly bummed. :(

What had I done to deserve this? Blogged that I hadn't had an injury in 6 months?? WTF? I went back to my training log to see if I could make sense of it and find out where I'd gone wrong, but seriously, I could find NOTHING in there that even hinted at this coming. Last week was one of the lightest weeks I've had this whole year and no run was out of the ordinary in any way. AND the worst of it was that I felt like I'd finally earned coach's trust b/c just this week was the first time in forever that I was scheduled to go back to the track... He has not sent me to the track since I limped off in tears last April... with a hip so tight my foot went numb...

Then yesterday I was almost laughing at myself at the absurdity of it all... like Ha ha all I had to do was LOOK at that track workout in my Training Peaks calendar and boom I'm injured. (Sorry but Shane if you're reading this I could totally hear that statement coming from you! ;) And that got me thinking... seriously... is this like some sort of psycho-somatic thing? Is it possible that I saw that meaty track workout on my schedule and subconsciously freaked out and actually reversed into the physical injury state that I was in last time I was prescribed that track workout?? That's kinda creepy, no?

I've recently been working a lot on the mental side of things though and realizing more and more the amazing power of our brains and I thought shoot, what do I have to lose? If my brain brought this on, maybe my brain can fix it too?? So I got quiet and visualized all those muscles around my hip relaxing, and I envisioned that bone seated comfortably all the way in the back of that socket and moving freely in all direction... I visualized myself running at the track and feeling great and being healthy/strong and nailing that meaty session. (Fwiw, in case you're curious, I bailed on running this week since I couldn't walk properly... which is not how I reacted last time this happened... in April I just pushed right through the pain and ended up disabled for weeks. So that lesson I learned in earnest!)

Last night I continued my stretching/mobility/rolling stuff too but the difference was that now it felt like it was working. And this morning I woke up and lifted my leg with no pain, rotated it a little and heard/felt a huge POP and ta-dah, all the pressure was relieved and my range of motion was restored and I will not lie, I'm kind of freaking out at the astounding power of my brain to both disable and/or enable me.

I know this sounds super wacky and you can poo-poo it if you want and think that maybe I just needed a few days away from running but I'm telling you- my brain brought on those muscle spasms that restricted my joint range of motion- AND, my brain released them. I am sure of it. I also wonder now if my brain brings on the cramps I get during Ironman marathons? My gut is telling me it does. So it's not like I'm imagining the cramps- they are VERY real- but just that the negative state of mind I'm in when they happen is likely what triggers them. Maybe that's why nobody can figure out a real 'cause' for cramping? Theories of electrolyte imbalance and/or dehydration have all been debunked... and certain people cramp while others never do... My theory now is that I cramp when I get negative in my head. I can say for sure in Vegas that I was in a super PISSY mental state when my muscles seized up... like maybe that negative energy is what causes the spasm?? If I think about it, it's pretty rare that I cramp when I'm smiling and happy.

SO... my visualizations going forward are centered around my emotional state more than anything else... and my race plan for Cozumel will involve high-fiving lots of little kids. Because who can high-five a little kid without smiling and being happy? It's my new Ironman Cramp Avoidance Plan (ICAP). I'll let you know if it works! :)


6 comments:

elizabeth said...

Umm... did you read my run race report from Tahoe? My stomach cramps during the run are caused by anxiety - I am absolutely certain of it! So this doesn't sound whacky at all to me - I'm on board. Maybe Moana is on to something ;)

Ange said...

:) ICAP ...love it.
Interesting indeed. And, very reasonable. I think the power of the brain is HUGE!!!!

Katie said...

I will high five the shit out of you if it helps you not to cramp. Write it down in your race plan.

Mike Zanoni said...

Think you are onto something with ideas of the headspace causing cramps. FYI, in East Asian medicine there is this weird idea that the channel most involved with your crampy inner hip joint musculature has a psychological component related to uncertainty. In fact, the major acupuncture point for releasing the hip is also used by some practitioners to treat depression and other psych stuff.

czechchick15 said...

Never underestimate the power of the brain! Positive thoughts all around and happy Cozumel training (although I am secretly or maybe not so secretly a little jealous about your training environment right about now ;) ) but let me tell you, it can get pretty damn hot in my living room although the view doesn't change! ;) Would love to meet you in Cozumel ...

sunnyrunning.com said...

Hmm, interesting. Do you think they've tested this? Because there have been a lot of tests about trying to figure out cramps, right?

I get them when I slow down after going fast. Though I also usually feel pretty shitty when that happens.