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Serious Hamstring Injury and Skiing

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi All


I found this website and noticed that lots of you know about injuries and skiing!  Just what I need as I seriously injured myself waterskiing back in april.


I have a serious hamstring rupture in the middle hamstring on my left leg (semitendinosus). I did it 6 months ago and am aware that it will take a year to 18 months to heal.  I have been told by a surgeon that my leg willl never be the same again (part of the muscle has retracted up the leg and I know have a lump at the top of my thigh and weakness below).  He told me I won't be able to ski to the same level - I work as a guide in the winter.  I am terrified that this will be true although I am seeking a second opinion as he did not seem to know about surgery options which made me doubt his opinion.  I live in the UK and there is a strong cost saving approach to medical care.


Anyway what I am really asking is - has anyone skied with this type of injury?  I am spinning for 30mins 3-4 times a week, jogging on the machine for 10-20mins and some outside 3-4 times a week, although I can only run outside for about 3-4mins max in one go (it is very depressing), but intersperse this with power walking.  I am doing strength training - hamstring curls, bridging, leg press, straight legged dead lifts, although cannot even manage one single leg bridge on the stability ball.  I also practice yoga 5 times a week (but am very aware not to over stretch my injured leg so tend to always do bent leg stances).  I feel that in many ways I am fitter than I have ever been as I am so worried about what is going to happen but the hamstrings are much longer and weaker in that leg now and with running the leg just becomes so tired (like a lead weight) that i can no longer pick it up and have to stop (no real pain).


What will skiing off piste be like - this is my passion.  I have been practicing jumping squats and trying to imagine what it will be like - it does not feel too bad.  Could his prognosis be right?  He said I would be likely to only get 60-70% of my original legs strength back.


Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated



post #2 of 34

Hi Alpinebunny7. I get your frustration and your worry and living in the uk as well I know what you mean about cost minimising. I'm also, however, aware that Doctors often give out advice and prognoses for matters they don't truly understand. My wife had an operation on her foot 2 years ago. She was told by the surgeon she wouldn't be able to run properly and probably wouldn't get back to the same level of skiing. Less than 12 months later she competed in a triathlon and while over 50 she's skiing better than ever. There are some problems with the foot but all completely manageable. I think sometimes these things are said as throw away comments without really underatanding sports medicine. There aim is to return you to a normal and pretty sedentary lifestyle not to get you back to an active lifestyle.


There are some really excellent Sports Physios around who could probably give a better overall picture. Ask athletes locally who are the top guys.The Doctor may be correct but I've heard so many stories of people getting second opinions and going on to return succesfully to their chosen passion albeit with some modifications. They can also help with a properly directed rehab programme. It will cost a bit unless you have insurance to cover it but if you can manage it, well worth it if only for an initial consultation.


In terms of the work you're doing, I would look to focus on really functional multi joint exercises. I would definitely avoid the hamstring curls and look to do lots of work on unstable surfaces like BOSU balls. I would also make sure you incorporate lots of mobility and flexibility exercise and plenty of core work. There are plenty of contributors on here who I'm sure will come up with plenty of great ideas.


Whatever you do don't be dispirited. I'm sure there'll be some kind of solution out there.

post #3 of 34

Alpinebunny7, I did the same thing to my left hamstring and didn't play Softball or Ski for quite a few years in fear of doing it again. Finally my wife joked around and told me I would never do either again. Needless to say, that was all it took,period. Since sitting home and not working for 6 months was not an option, surgery was out. I got put on a workout regimen to build up the muscles around the ruptured one. after a few months I was back playing ball and Skiing, hesitant at first but doing it nevertheless. I have not missed a beat since and do not avoid any terrain whatsoever. I wish you luck and a speedy recovery. Keep the faith and let me know if you find a good PT and what they recommend.    Regards,   Dave

post #4 of 34

Hi, I've had a hamstring issue for over a year now, and I too get the feeling that it's chronic and won't ever fully heal (I did it playing tennis; was the second injury to that hamstring). I can still feel it when I run. On the bright side, except for skinning, I never noticed it while skiing last season. 

post #5 of 34

Hi all,

Its your calfs that are causing your problem. how tight are you calfs and how much ankle flexion do you really have is my burning question! I find 80% of all folks (skiers or not) have tight calfs. Even if you work out your calfs are tight unless you stretch hard for 10-15 minute 3 x week if not 5x a week. To check your ankle range of motion sit in a chair with knee, hips and ankles at 90", (barefoot) keeping your heel on the floor lift the front of your foot of the floor. How many fingers can you place under your fifth ball (fifth metatarsal) toe? If you can fit three of more you ankle are flexable under three you need heel lifts. To check if your calfs are tight sit on the floor with your back against a wall. Can you extend your leg fully with your knee locked? Ideally you should be able to get your foot in the same angle as you did when doing the sitting test...if not its your calf. Your calf muscle complex is one of the strongest in the body. if your calf is tight it will pull on the hamstring and could even cause a back problem... STRETCHING IS THE CURE!


Jeffrey S. Rich C.Ped.

Masterboot Fitter and Founder of Masterfit University

post #6 of 34
post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi Dave


Thank you so much for your reply - your email really made me feel alot better. 


I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about your injury?  Are your hamstrings much longer on that side now?  I have a lump of muscle further up the thigh where the muscle has retracted and then below they are quite weak.  I am really worried it may tear easily there now as it is weaker. 


I take it by all terrain you are skiiing off-piste and bumps again now? 


What percentage strength do you have in it now compared to the other leg?


I have not found anything anywhere about this - your message gave me real hope when I was totally depressed.  Thank you!



post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi All


Thanks so much for all of your advice. 


I am going to see a sports injury surgeon for a second opinion who has written a number of papers on waterskiing injuries, it looks like they are the best place in the country so I am hoping for either more positive advice or an option of repair. 


Adi I heed your advice on the multi-joint exercises, I have seen both NHS and private physios but to be honest neither had ever come across this type of injury - strange as you'd think it wouldn't be that uncommon - (having said that a & e were useless too!) 


I do feel more positive as have seen an improvement this week - I can now run outside for 10 whole minutes without stopping!  And my strength in all the exercises except the hamstring curls and running is now the same as the other leg.  I guess the surgeon will know for sure what the prognosis is. 


Just to hear about people skiing with hamstring injuries like Dave's and Prickly's gives me real hope.  I was kind of hoping that skiing would not be affected in the same way as running and it sounds like this may be the case.  Fingers crossed.  I will update on here as to the outcome as I think it is really helpful to be able to read about it as there just seems to be no information online about mid muscle hamstring tears.


Thanks again



post #9 of 34


When u see the sports doctor as him if you have an Equinus Deformity. If so that would explain alot of your problems.


Jeffrey S. Rich C.Ped.


Co-Founder of Masterfit University-Educational seminars for Snow sports

post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi Dr Balance


No I don't think thats it somehow - I think it might be something to do with doing the splits on waterskis and snapping my hamstring muscle! 


But thanks for the advice.  The other leg is fine and I don't run on tip toe which is what the syndrome suggests - in fact I am more of a heavy heel lander!



post #11 of 34
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post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hi All


I thought I would update this since maybe someone else will have some information on what I am going through.


So I severely injured my hamstring in April.  It was in many ways not too bad by September apart from the devastating prognosis from a surgeon and the inability to run.  I continued with physio as was told but managed to over do it at the gym and now I am having serious problems.  Luckily I have seen another surgeon who seems to know alot more about it and have finally after 8 months been given an MRI scan.  It turns out that the original diagnosis were completely wrong and I do have an avulsion.  I think that when I made it worse i infact completely avulsed it although am waiting for more details.  It seems that I will need an operation after all.  At the moment I have constant pins and needles where the tendon joins the pelvis, really annoying cramp in the adductor (inner thigh muscle), I have strained my gluteous medius and have damaged the calf muscle.  I did not realise how lucky I was before I over did the gym as I now can barely go on the cross trainer on a low setting let alone the bike, whereas before I was spinning 4 to 5 times a week.  I am gutted and just hope that the surgeon can help me.


If anyone else has had any experience of this I would be very grateful to here about it.  I have been told the other muscles will compensate  but at the moment it feels as if I am at risk of avulsing further muscles due to the increased stress on them.  I am very worried.


Dome - you told me about your avulsion.  I would really like to chat more about it if you get a minute.


Many thanks



post #13 of 34

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post #14 of 34

Rather than ask I did the search and only found this on hamstring ruptures.  Last week I suffered a avulsion of the hamstring tendons from the ischial tuberosity (surfing accident) …  i.e. I have torn the hamstring tendons from their anchor points on the pelvic bone.  Fortunately my physiotherapist recognised the likely injury, sent me for an MRI and pointed me to one of the best surgeons working in this area (repairs 2 times World surfing champion Mick Fanning’s busted arse).


Will update from time to time on rehab and progress but from all of my reading it is going to be a fairly long process; six weeks crutches, three months restricted mobility before commencing rehabilitation through to six months return to normality.  Needless to say normal sporting activities are on hold and Japan skiing trip for January has now been cancelled.

post #15 of 34

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post #16 of 34

Thanks Dome, so you know who I'm heading to see in around 12 hours time. :)  I'm very lucky that my physioherapist worked the the ARU's Sevens team and has an excellent network of medical specialists.

post #17 of 34

Mine's not as bad as yours, but it will still take some time to recover fully.  I pulled mine Waterskiing 7/27 and then I reinjured it in September. It was probably weakend by the total hip replacement I had in February.


Lot's of stretching, hot/cold therapy and sports massage have helped.  Plus I spend a lot of time in the pool.



Good luck with your recovery!






post #18 of 34

That looks very familiar …. ouch!!!!  My hamstrings (same leg) required surgical repair and the initial injury (and hematoma) looked like that.

post #19 of 34

Ouch, looks painful.  I didn't have that muich bruising but the MRI showed a total avulsion of the 3 tendons from the pelvis with a 1 cm retraction on one.


Anyhoo, operation went smoothly, now on crutches. Worst part is not being able to sit down for two weeks (keep pressure off op site).... makes doing work a little difficult.

post #20 of 34

Operation + 2 weeks.  Now allowed to stand and walk using crutches as support. Still no sitting for another 4 weeks.  Life with half a bum is not easy.


Interesting discussion with surgeon yesterday: he does a number of these reattachment proceedures where they may not be necessary but recently saw a patient who had been managed conservativley by her doctor for 9 months before being refered for surgery.  The tendons had retracted over 10cms and her recover will be much longer and more painful than mine; not to mention that she wasted the first 9 months avoiding surgery.

post #21 of 34

Seven weeks post operation to reattach tendons.  Can walk unassisted, allowed to sit (and drive) and commence leg rehab with physio in two days time.  Started upper body exercises after four weeks and started to include core work at six weeks. Have been swimming three time this week; obviously no kicking of legs.  Discussion with doctor client advised that keeping pressure of repair site (ischial tuberosity) by avoiding sitting was pretty important to speeding recovery as repair site is fairly low in blood flow.  Will discuss with surgeon if time in a hyperbaric chamber would be worthwhile.


Long and slow rehabs are a real drag but I am getting lots of quality reading done.

post #22 of 34
Woohoo, after 3 months, surgeon has allowed me back on the bike. Under strict instructions not to fall off, so restricted myself to 1 hours worth of sedate happy laps around Centennial Park. Have been swimming a bit since the beginning of January (minimal kicking) and am almost up to a full lap of Bondi Beach (close enough to a 1km swim). The rehab program really ramped up at the beginning of January when I commenced physiotherapy. The full set of exercises for rehabilitating the rejoined hamstring tendons takes about 90 minutes each day, plus I add in another 30 minutes of light free weights to keep the upper body in tone while I cant surf (swimming is helping as well). The real frustration is that everything is very gradual as building up strength and flexibility takes must be done gradually. The expectation is to be back to 75% pre-operation capability after 6 months.
post #23 of 34
I did a lot of ROM work in the pool, as well as swimming. I did an aquafit class with a bunch of old ladies and it actually helped a lot.

Be careful the hamstring is really easy to reinjure.
post #24 of 34
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Be careful the hamstring is really easy to reinjure.


Part of the frustration is feeling significantly better but not being able to push the rehab process.  After 6 months I should be up to 75% of pre-injury capacity and the surgeon (Dr David Wood - pretty much the World's best at this) expects I should be able to return to full capacity.


Fortunately I will have 2 months post rehab to build base fitness for the next southern hemisphere ski season.

post #25 of 34


good to hear you are on the mend.  

Should be slaying by may/june.

75% capacity @ 6 months post injury is a good statistic.

Keep grinding on.

post #26 of 34

One year post injury and well enough to go ski mountaineering for a week in the NZ Alps last month.  Pretty much healed I would say.


post #27 of 34

Taxman - congrats on your recovery! And on catching some late season snow. Gorgeous mountains!


My spouse ruptured her hamstring in a skiing accident this past spring. She lucked into a doc who has had a ton of experience in doing this kind of repair. Interestingly a Kiwi...


She had it repaired less than two weeks from injury (a desirable thing) in March. She can once again leave me in the dust biking, running, etc. She is cleared to ski.


FWIW, this site/thread was a great source of info. Best she found. The thread was started long ago, and things have evolved since then. The later info is more pertinent, but she felt the whole thread was useful.

post #28 of 34

Great news for your +1 spindrift.  I was lucky that my physiotherapist (Ex Australian Rugby team physio) pointed me straight to one of the World 's best, Dr David Wood. Dr Wood stitched multiple World champion surfer Mick Fanning back together, many other sports people, and our Prime Minister (also a surfing accident).  And not unusual that your wife's surgeon was a Kiwi; hamstring avulsions seem to be a bit prevalent in rugby union (NZ's national sport) from a now banned tackling technique ......  :eek 

Edited by Taxman - 11/14/14 at 11:47pm
post #29 of 34
Funny you mention that. Her doc was previously a consulting orthopedic surgeon for the All Blacks among other teams. A serious stroke of luck in an unlucky situation. Catching it before it could adhere was a good thing. When the MRI came back showing the avulsion, he called one morning and suggested pre op that afternoon and surgery the following morning...
post #30 of 34

Great outcome Thumbs Up

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