This week was not good to me. It started off nice and unassuming enough, but by Tuesday everything pretty much went downhill. Reflecting on this week, I am so thankful for health insurance and the fact that I have a relationship with an amazing chiropractor. So because there wasn’t a whole lot of fitness that happened this week, I’m going to share my weird medical issue, and how it whacked me over the head. Monday was a travel day for me, so I woke up early and nailed my strength workout. This was the one bright star for me this week. Afterwards, I got ready and drove about 2.5 hours to San Antonio, spent the rest of the day working, and then met a girlfriend for a drop in workout at her box. The workout was tough, but nothing felt off or painful or alarming in anyway; just a standard run of the mill, out of breath, CrossFit WOD.
Tuesday is a rest day for me, so I woke up and started getting ready for work, and realized my toenails really needed some attention (runner girl probs). So I sat down on the couch in my hotel room and quickly painted them. Looking back, I did sneeze at some point while I was bent over painting my nails, and this could have been the “start.” After finishing, I sat up and realized that my mid-back felt tight, but no big deal because I was just in a hunched over position. Throughout the morning, my back was getting progressively tighter and tighter, to the point that when I started to drive to work, I found that any time I extended my left arm, I was having intense muscle spasms. It was the most bizarre experience. I hadn’t sustained any sort of injury, but my back was spasming and screaming at me for me no reason. It freaked me the hell out, and made me feel really old to be honest.
As I got to work, the spasms increased making it difficult to move, breathe, and talk. I’ll say it again, this came out of nowhere. About an hour into my day, I knew I just couldn’t keep functioning, so I went to a nearby urgent care clinic. I have to say I really love this model of healthcare; where I pay a slightly higher copay to see a doctor immediately without having to book an appoint or deal with an ER. I am so thankful for these places when I have a flu come on, and they have saved me when I’ve had issues while I’m traveling. Anyways, off to urgent care I go. They diagnose me with muscle spasms, can’t pinpoint the cause other than possibly sleeping in a hotel bed and dehydration. I get a steroid shot and a muscle relaxer, and went back to the hotel for about hour, and then returned to work. I felt some relief, but I was still in some decent pain. Later that evening I got a massage, and felt slightly better still. Wednesday morning I felt about 50% better, dutifully took my muscle relaxer, and made it through the day and the drive home without much discomfort. I figured it was just a random happenstance, and I should be back to normal quickly.
Thursday I woke up, and felt nearly normal, so I decided to go for a nice, easy run. The rest of the day I had some tightness, but nothing to write home about. Friday I felt a little worse, so I decided to skip my run, and spent most of my morning on a heating pad. Again, by mid-morning I was back to insane spasms. I was completely perplexed. My sweet husband came home and took me to an urgent care center down the street from us, again with a diagnosis of unexplained muscle spasms, a steroid shot with an anti-inflammatory, and a prescription for muscle relaxers. Here’s where the medical community irritates me. All of my providers up to this point gave me the “you probably hurt it during CrossFit, but didn’t realize it,” speech. The thing is, I may not like to admit when I have overdone it in the box, but I always know. And I absolutely knew this was not the case. This back issue was out of nowhere and wasn’t triggered by anything I had done Monday. I felt completely fine Monday evening and all morning Tuesday, until I painted my damn toenails.
I knew in my gut that I was missing something, and my instincts told me to try to get in to see my chiropractor at Armadillo. He knows my fitness level, he knows how I train, he knows how my body handles the training, and he’s always given me good advice and been able to admit when I’ve stumped him. Thankfully, he was able to work me in almost immediately after I left urgent care. He saw me hobble in, asked me 3 questions, the last one being, “does it hurt when you breath in?” Hell yes, it sent waves of muscle contractions that were near labor-level pain every time I tried to take a deep breath. That was all he needed to tell me, “Yea, I’m pretty sure you just popped a rib out of place.” One heating pad and two adjustments later, I felt instant relief. The muscles in my back were still irritated and sore, but I could breath and move without feeling them clamp down in agony. He explained that a popped rib could be caused by random things like coughing while bending over to pick up a bag. I remembered the sneeze while painting my toenails. Stupid, random, happenstance.
He also explained that while the “injury” isn’t serious, and is a fairly quick fix, your spine isn’t a fan of your riblets being out of place. As such, your spine will communicate and let all of the muscles around the out of place rib know that they need to clamp down when something is “off” to protect further injury. That’s what was causing all of the wild pain. And while the muscle relaxers were helping things calm down back there, nothing was going to be resolved with the rib still being out of place. My back was sore for the rest of Friday, but noticeably more comfortable and the spasms had completely stopped. Saturday, things still felt tender and tight, so I sucked it up and took another rest day. Throughout the day everything seemed to calm, and I was feeling about 90% better by that evening. I’ll say it again, I am so thankful to Dr. Chad Peters and Armadillo Sports Chiropractic. Without the adjustment, my rib probably would have eventually gotten back to where it needs to be, but who knows how long it would have taken.
So, a couple of lessons here. 1) It’s important to remember that while I’m no professional athlete, I’m also not a typical, sedentary American. I have spent the last decade really getting to know my body and how it responds to things. If there is a weird, persisting problem, I shouldn’t settle for “There’s really no explanation, but take this and hope for the best,” from my medical providers. When I have a cold, flu, sinus infection, or an injury I can explain, traditional medical treatment works great. But when I have a strange, confusing, out of the blue, unexplainable physical reaction (or a regular old sports injury), I need to see someone who understands me and how I train. 2) Even the fittest bodies can quickly be sidelined by something as benign as a sneeze. While I don’t think I could have done anything to really prevent this episode, it did reinforce how important stretching and recovery are to my routine. If this had been an issue of a pulled lat, I would have kicked myself for not doing more stretching before and after the WOD on Monday. 3) Health insurance and routine healthcare are things I should never take for granted. 4) Next time, just pay the money for a damn pedicure.
This Weeks Workouts:
Total Miles: A Whopping 24 Miles
Hansons Marathon Method, Week 12 (sort of)
How the Runs Felt
Monday was my second strength workout of the program, and it felt pretty great. It was my first workout off the track, and the last 1.5 mile set was challenging, but I felt good throughout the run, and was really happy with how training was progressing. As much as I was excited to have a lower mileage week, I was not thrilled about cutting out 3 training days, including my first nine mile tempo. I knew my tempo run was going to happen on a treadmill this week because of my travel, and I was somewhat nervous about the additional mile, but I wanted to be able to at least give it a shot. I was also really disappointed that I missed out on an opportunity to visit one of my favorite running spots, the Leon Creek Greenway Trail. I have really looked forward to exploring more of the Howard Peak Greenway Trail System on my recent trips to San Antonio. I’ve been so impressed with this greenway system that I wrote an entire blog post about it, here https://metconsandmiles.com/2019/10/24/howard-peak-greenway-trail-system/.
It’s difficult not to have a mental breakdown over my “lost” week that happened so late in my training plan. But I know based on previous workouts that my fitness is getting right to where I want it. Four down days will not undo the previous 12 weeks, thankfully. I don’t have a lingering injury that will need to be babied for a couple of weeks. I’m hoping after an easy run on Sunday and one more follow up adjustment Monday, that I’ll be able to hop back into my routine fairly seamlessly. I’m also trying to remind myself that I have never had a perfect training block. The closest I came, I ended up with a raging upper respiratory infection the week of the marathon that completely derailed me. So knowing that I have run strong on previous plans that were way less structured, with some sort of illness or injury that set me back at some point, is helping me. Mostly. I’m still a little freaked out to be completely honest, but I can’t really do anything except hope for the best at this point.
What I’ve Been Listening To
I’m still hooked on the Night Owl Podcast, and listened to some good ghost stories during my road trips this week. I also started two new true crime series: A Murder in Oregon & Urge to Kill. Both of these podcasts are obviously focused on murders, and they are both off to a really interesting start. Urge to Kill is not an unsolved, mystery type murder, so I like that the host gives some of the more pertinent information up front, instead of leaving you hanging on, but I’m also interested to hear where it’s going to go from here.
How the WODs Felt
The one WOD I did this week felt great. I know you can’t read the annoyed tone of my voice in that previous sentence, so I’ll spell it out. I’m annoyed that I only made it in to the box once this week. I don’t like it. But I also can’t do anything about it, and honestly, I think I would have just been in absolute misery if I had been stubborn enough to try to CrossFit at any point in the week. If you’d like to read my thoughts on not completing the final Open WOD, check out https://metconsandmiles.com/2019/11/09/20-5-why-i-said-nope/.
What Went Well
L.O.L. Three things went well this week. I had a good strength run at the beginning of the week. I got an answer and solution to my weird back issue. I got some forced extra rest and sleeps.
What Went Shitty
I can’t bring myself to whine anymore, read above.
Plans to Improve Next Week
I absolutely will not be painting my own toenails this week. I also plan to take it fairly easy in the box next week. While I think everything is pretty happy and settled with my back, I’m also a little concerned about the possibility of popping that rib back out. So, I think I’ll probably move a little more slowly and deliberately, and really pay attention to keeping a neutral spine as much as possible. I’m not going to try to “make up” any of my missed runs. This next week is a high mileage week, and I think I would potentially die if I tried to increase it anymore. So I’m going to be smart and do my prescribed runs and lift cautiously as long as everything continues to feel happy.