Monday, October 26, 2009

The Culprit: Psoas Muscle

Thanks to Lori Stoneberg, my "fixer-upper" who over the past two years has figured me out so well and goes straight to my problem areas and fixes them. Lori is my massage therapist and can't help but grin every time I yelp like a pup after she has decided to drive deep into one of my hamstrings or calf muscles...all for the good, though. She is highly technical and within seconds of me getting on the table, knows just what the problem is. I've rarely had real problems but since the Oil Creek 100, I've had that nagging issue on my upper left leg. Well, it's really been an issue since Mile 20 of Oil Creek. So tonight, I let her know what hurt and when it hurt. If you were to take your left hand and put it in the crease that is formed at the top of your thigh when you lift your left leg straight up, that's where the pain shoots to when it flares up. It wasn't 5 minutes into the session tonight when I hear "you're really messed up!"...thanks, Lori. Once again, not one stinkin' day goes by when someone in my day doesn't tell me that I'm messed up or need to seek professional help. No, I'm not normal and have never claimed to be! How boring would 'normal' be?!

The psoas muscle: as you can see in the image to the right, it starts in the front, precisely where that crease is that I described and travels up and around your side and connects in the back at your vertebrae. It is part of the core muscles and is part of the hip flexors which you've probably heard of. When you pick your leg up, that's what is doing the work. For me, my psoas was stuck...half contracted. When it is contracted...and stuck, it pulls the entire hip inward and twists that whole side. This makes it painful and really hard to lift your leg. This is EXACTLY what happened at Oil Creek. So this flared up around Mile 20 and for 80 more miles, was tough to lift that leg. Plus, remember my "trail pole dances" that I wrote about in my report? I did that because I was so tight in my thighs...I couldn't even squat which again makes total sense. This whole area was essentially seizing up. In fact, I vividly remember the last 25-30 miles miles of Oil Creek when in order to go up something steep like coming out of a creek-bed or climbing stairs, I had to lead with my right foot with every step then pick up my left leg...but keeping it straight because I couldn't bend/lift it nor put any weight on it. That's how I progressed and kept moving...doing whatever the heck I had to. So tonight, Lori worked hard on me (I hope she broke a sweat because it felt like she should have!) and hopefully, has put me on track to recovery. When she started tonight, my left leg was elevated higher than my right because the psoas muscle was partially contracted and pulling the entire leg upward. When finished, my left leg was back down where it should be. She mentioned that the foam roller probably isn't doing much because how deep this muscle is and how it wraps around the torso. Hanging my leg over a step and extending it backwards as far as possible would be better and would better isolate the area and stretch it out. That, rest, no hills for the time-being (argh!) and an up-tick in water intake is her prescription. "Yes, Ma'am!"

This whole leg issue has had me puzzled but her diagnosis tonight makes total sense. She did make me grab the edge of the table with a death grip more than once tonight but as always, I'm thankful I can call her "my" massage therapist. If you ever need her, please contact me and I'd be happy to put you in contact with her. She rocks!

To Lori and to recovery! Cheers!

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