Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back Cramps, Indian Food, and Untraditional Jammers

First off, can I just tell you how angry I get that Word doesn’t recognize the word “jammer” or “jammers”? I just added both of those to my dictionary to keep my anger under control. Now to the real part of the blog (fuck! Word does it with “blog” too!)… Did I mention I work for a book publisher by day?

Back Cramps
Back cramps – they suck. A lot of people get them. I get them. Did I mention they suck? Well, short of lopping off my DDs and losing 50lbs, the cramps aren’t gonna just stop anytime soon without a little help. So, I’ve been on this personal quest for back-cramp relief.

First, I treated the back cramps like muscle cramps: replenish electrolytes during exercise and thoroughly stretch the muscle before activity.

Next, I went to the herb store and asked the guru there if there was anything herbal I could use. She gave me two options, both of which I’m giving a try: 1) Comfrey root: make this into tea and drink an hour before exercise; 2) Ruta Grav pellets: place 3 under tongue when back pain starts (aka, before a cramp sets in).

Then I talked to a friend about the situation. This friend is a massage therapist and is totally getting off on the fact that she gets to break out her anatomy books to plan deep tissue massage that will help me.

So, how’s this all working? Well, it’s interesting. Like a typical American, I suppose, I have been looking for a “cure.” But the information I’ve gathered through all this research has led me down a different path than I expected. It seems that the back cramps may not actually be the problem, but a result of a larger problem or combination of problems. They’re just a really painful end result!

The massage therapist’s mentor, so to speak, a person who has been in practice for a long time, suggested that it may instead be a pelvis and breathing problem. Come to find out, the left side of my pelvis is jacked up like 4cm higher than the right, and the muscles on the left side of my body, from my abdomen to pelvis and pelvis to knee are significantly tighter, which is likely causing the wrench. Hmmmm… What could cause all that on the left side of my body??? Perhaps going fast and turning left – a lot? Yep. Turns out going one direction really fucks w/your body. The second part of this dynamic, incorrect breathing, contributes to the cramp according to the guru.

So, what am I doing? Well, I went into practice last night a lot more cognizant about my breathing. It sounds dumb, but I think focusing on breathing like you would in Yoga prolonged my need to stretch. Two days prior I got that deep-tissue rub-down and I could feel an immediate difference in my posture. I certainly think that helped as well (loosening the muscles around it did lower my pelvis significantly).

I felt a difference in the right direction last night. Here’s what I did:
- 10 min yoga before leaving the house
- stretches w/the group
- drank Smart Water
- mindful breathing
- took 3 pellets of Ruta Grav when back pain started
- stretched when I needed to (only twice the whole night!)

It’s still not all worked out, but at least I feel like I’m on the right path now. I think finding the “cure” for back cramps is like finding the cure for cancer in the roller derby world. But, like cancer, perhaps it’s more about predisposition (size, bone structure) and prevention… I’ll keep you posted in this ever evolving quest.

Indian Food
I’ve discovered something better than chocolate covered pretzels for PMS: Indian food. I’ve always loved Indian food, but it was quite by chance that I discovered it satiates the cravings you get at that time. A new Indian restaurant just moved into my work neighborhood, and we cannot stop going. It’s like crack. The VP told me a story not to long ago about a Chinese restaurant that served crappy food and was always being shut down by the Health Department, but always had a line out the door. Turns out they were adding opium paste to all their food, and people became addicted. This of course has nothing to do w/my obsession w/good Indian food aside from the fact that I just compared it to crack.

Untraditional Jammers
I jammed last night during scrimmages. It was so much fun. I never jam, and I think that’s why I had everyone cheering for me – we all want to root for the underdog. I actually established lead jammer and won 1-0 (I strategically called it off my second time through the pack after having passed 1 person). I think it may be several more months before I jam again, if only to build the suspense back up and garner all the cheering again!

This got me thinking though… If I had a little more endurance, I think I might actually rock as a jammer. As a bigger girl (and a blocker) I can get pummeled and stay upright for the most part. So, who’s a better jammer: a tiny fast girl who avoids getting hit and can wiggle through the pack or a larger girl who is solid and can force her way through the pack? There’s no right answer here. Just thought I’d pose the question…


Melissa said...

Your back remedies are something I might borrow. Let me know how your herbel remedies seem to help out. I too have a tilted pelvis. This is due to pregnancy, holding the baby, etc. Makes sense that derby isn't going to make it better.

I would love to try jamming because I tend to agree about bigger girls with endurance can get through the pack easier. The smaller girls do seem to take more tumbles when blocked. You rocked it last night! I say you try jamming once a week just to see how it goes. You'd be a great secret weapon. So would Berzerker!

Carrie said...

Having been lopsided for my adult life thanks to scoliosis, I'm totally with you on the back pain. Yoga and pilates have been my treatment options of choice, but ever since I started bellydancing I've found that helps with the pain too. You're engaging so much of your core yet keeping your hips and legs very loose and free, so it's been great. Plus it's a great workout for glutes and thighs and other muscle groups that come in handy for derby.

I just went back to bellydance class on Tuesday after being off for the holidays. I had been to open skate on Sunday and worked myself pretty hard doing speed and endurance. Lo and behold, my lower back and left hip were *killing me* during class because I was so out of shape and practice, although the more I did, the better I felt. So if you're feeling daring, I say pick up a bellydance DVD or drop by a class and see how it feels. Not only that, but I haven't met a guy yet who didn't think the bellydancing thing was totally hot. It spices things up definitely, and it's another one of those activities that we ladies of substance totally kick ass at. ;)

Anonymous said...

please jam. please please please!