a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: Stretching...or Not

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Stretching...or Not

SUMMARY: Cramps, stretching, fruit in my very own yard.

Last night as I dozed off in bed and changed position, the muscle inside my right thigh and halfway down the side of my calf started to spasm/cramp like crazy. Man, those things really hurt. Tried to massage it and keep the leg stretched to make it go away. Sometimes my lower spine compresses the nerves and I get some of that, but usually in the sciatic nerve, and usually if I can get to a position where I can do some relaxing stretches, it eases off. This time, every time I moved, it went again.

I finally got onto the floor to try to do some stretching, and it went again. Repeatedly. Then, as that eased, it shifted to the top of my thigh. I'm sure the dogs thought I must be rabid, rolling on the floor and moaning and cursing and begging for it to stop. I think they were looking for the shotgun already. Then, after it taunted me with several repeats and then eased off and I moved slightly, it started on the inner thigh in my other leg. When that finally eased, it moved on down to the shin and foot of my first leg. Every time it would start to ease, I'd move, and it would start up again. Over and over.

That was 20 minutes of abject pain. I was ready to tell anyone where the treasure was and betray all my fellow double agents to make it stop.

When it all finally decided to quit, and I was able to do some stretching of the spine (hard to tell which came first), I hobbled downstairs to research about leg cramps. Yeah, I worked very hard the last 2 days, hauled a lot of agility equipment that I don't usually haul, sweated a lot when I don't usually sweat. Could've been the weight on my spine. Could be mild heat stroke--I did feel unnaturally cool in the evening before bed. Could be dehydration--I drank 4 sodas, a glass of milk, a bottle of water, and had a bowl of ice cream and some fruit between getting home and going to bed 5 hours later. Could have been I lost salt and potassium. Could've just been the unusual type of exercise. OK, so much for research. But everything said, drink more. And some said, bananas and orange juice are good sources of potassium. And some said add a tsp of salt per quart of water and drink that.

I was still thirsty, so grabbed another soda. (These are all diets, BTW, no calories.) Having had my fill of bananas for the day (2 already), I stood there in the kitchen at midnight peeling oranges (fortunately I had a huge bowl sittign on my table from the tree in my yard). Couldn't deal with drinking salty water, so I had a couple handfuls of salty pretzels instead. I'm sure that's VERY healthy.

And then I slept just fine, thenk yew. But the muscles that cramped *hurt* today--not ache from the work they did, but like they were yanked in the wrong directions. Bleah.

Meanwhile, back at the dog training arena: I've been working for many months to try to get the dogs to stretch on command. Susan Garrett says it's easy, just have a clicker and treats with you when you get up in the morning and are doing your morning rituals. So mostly the dogs have learned to stretch in my upstairs bathroom. Every time I go in there, night or day, for any reason, the dogs show up to stretch. But only their front ends; I can't catch them stretching their back legs out often enough for it to have registered, although I'm thinking that Boost is starting to do it more often.

Boost has also converted her front end stretch into more like a play bow, although her elbows are straight and it's better than nothing. Tika does actually get the shoulder and neck muscles stretched when she does it. Obviously I didn't hold my criteria well enough with Boost.

I've been putting a command to it, and they've responded really well...in my upstairs bathroom. Have recently been experimenting with it in other locales. Was just out in my side yard, thinking about how much the muscle in my inner thigh hurts, when the dogs wandered over. I had no treats or clickers, but I did have my camera, so thought I'd give it a try. Tika did a perfect front-end stretch, but danged pocket camera wouldn't focus fast enough to take the shot. And she wouldn't do it again when she realized there were no treats.

Boost, however, did it after my 3rd or 4th request... VERY quickly.... and then had to be coaxed to try again, and DID! Long enough for a photo.

And the reason I was in the side yard was to scout out my absolutely favorite yard-grown fruit:

Blackberries! This is apparently the season, RIGHT NOW! Got to get out and start pickin'. I'm SURE they're jam-packed (ha ha?) with potassium and salt and electrolytes and muscle relaxants and all like that. I can just tell!


  1. And anti-oxidants and anthocyanins! Yay!

  2. Drinking more water if your potassium and sodium is low will make things worse. I would keep "cystal light" electrolyte packs in your house. They make these little packets that you add to water bottles. They have lots of different ones but they have one kind that is to replace electrolytes. I always take them to outdoor trials. Diana