This article may seem rather bizarre and possibly difficult to believe but it’s my experience that cannot be denied.
In general terms, muscle cramping is perceived as an uncomfortable and negative experience, that must be avoided at all costs; today, I will share my positive experiences of cramping.
Here are some of the many different reasons on why cramps occur:
- Poor blood circulation (possible due to liver and kidney stress)
- Exercising too much
- Magnesium and or potassium deficiencies
- Inadequate stretching
- Overly active in hot temperatures
Those reasons are certainly valid and need to be considered if you have frequent cramping, however, defining reasons and solutions is not the purpose of this article.
My experience of muscle cramping is that the muscles are tight and unable to adjust into a truer sense of alignment or thier “natural physiological position,” hence cramping is the result. My conscious practice of intentionally cramping is to allow the cramp to happen without resisting it, then the muscle will unwind into a more neutral balance and better resting position.
The muscle improving length tension relationship with other muscles because what happens in one muscle relatively effects other muscles. Therefore, there isn’t just an isolated change in the specific muscle you’ve worked with, but a global/postural change, whether that is felt or not, because we must not forget that it’s all one system. Not to mention joint stress which will also be alleviated as the muscle controls joint position.
I find that working from the knees down into the feet seems to be the most accessible. (calves, peroneals and muscles of feet and toes). For many people, this area of the legs is the most common area for cramps, due to much of the body’s weight is there and the body naturally pushes stress into that area to preserve the more vital parts, like organs, glands, digestion, respiration etcetera. These more important bio-systems are more the cause of muscle and joint pain, however, that’s another topic to be tackled in an upcoming blog.
Of course, it’s easier said than done to relax into a cramp and allowing it to release, but with intuition and discernment, the release can be controlled. To consciously bring forth these cramps one needs to gently move the foot into unusual positions, inverting, everting, dorsiflexing, plantar-flexing the foot, extending the foot through the toes, whilst twisting foot, and spiraling through the peroneals from the knee and foot. When the pain becomes “almost” too much, there will occur a natural guarding that, if proprioceptively calculated, can be consciously controlled and guided into a release. It’s an incremental process, by meeting yourself at your pain threshold to continually realize the many fibers that make up muscles.
Conscious muscle cramping practice is basically accomplished through trial and error, combining one or more of these techniques and being guided by the muscle tension that can be heightened or lowered with your close attention. It’s a personal journey of self discovery that will vary with each person and each body, so I could never fully explain how to implement the techniques, only give guidelines that will set the stage for exploration.
I had a 45min conscious cramping session from the knees down recently and experienced some wonderful releases through the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. Yes, my muscles were sore from the knees down for 3 days after, rather like doing a bunch of calf exercises or a long, intense hike over rough terrain. But boy, the amount of benefits I received from that session cannot be conveyed through speech!
So find the courage to explore this unusual approach to balancing the body and if anyone happens to attempt it, I would enjoy hearing about the experience!