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Hamstring recovery...help!

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hey all. I was playing soccer with my son's team a week ago and was sprinting for the ball when my hamstring popped (audibly) and my entire right side went numb. I seemed to have pulled the living snot out of it and it hurt pretty bad.

My wife is an RN and marathon runner and has me on Motrin and icing it every night and that has helped a lot. I can walk without a limp now but it still hurts when I try and move fast (like trying to catch that BART train this morning...ouch!).

I think it's healing quickly and will be ready for ski season but my bigger concern is how to prevent this from happening again. My wife thinks I've got too much of an imbalance in strength between my quads and hamstrings and suggests I hit the weight room and do leg curls. However, a lot of research I've done on the web says it may be more of a flexibility issue. The two seem at odds since lifting more will tighten it up instead of loosening it.

Any advice for preventing another pull? Anyone ever ski with a hamstring injury? I'm not sure how it will affect things but I doubt I'll be nailing those 720 rodeo mute grabs this fall (not a problem though, since I couldn't do them before I got hurt either).
post #2 of 11
you're onto it. (i'll try to find the thread that came up earlier, related directly to this.)

hamstring curls will STRENGTHEN the muscle; there's a difference between that and tightness. that you pulled it at all could easily be because it was tight due to the fact that it wasn't strong enough in relation to your quads. your hams get tight trying to hold their own against the quads. it's a push/pull thing.(a cyclist will often get tight hams, especially if their pedal stroke technique is messy, as they're more or less "sitting on" the downstroke (leg extension, done by the quads) and ignoring the upstroke (leg flexion, the hams).)
as far as getting into activity real soon, be patient. if you did pull it, those linger for a long time. and just because it feels better doesn't mean it's ready for busting moves and, more particularly, running, especially sprints. skiing is a bit different, of course, but not that much.
if it's torn, talk to a pro. (if it's torn, you're sitting down right now, or should be. certainly wanting to.)
hamstring curls make the muscle stronger and more resilient. always stretch. some say before, i say after activity, at least for serious stretches, held for awhile. after activity the muscle is "warmer" (blood in the muscle) and much less likely to tear or be aggravated. serious stretching of "cold" muscles, especially your ham right now, can easily aggravate the condition. stretch a little before, of course - that's getting blood into the area - but the big stretch-out should follow the activity.
i'll look for the thread but doubt i'll find it.
do NOT push the hamstrings before they're ready. speaking from experience here.

other issues to be aware of are hydration and getting enough electrolytes, particularly potassium.

again, hitting the weights will NOT tighten the muscle(it will firm it up, yes), it will strengthen it, increasing your defense against future pulls. start with lighter weights and higher reps.

straight-leg deadlifts also hit the hams AND lower back, another trouble spot for a lot of people. it is neglected and/or tightened trying to counteract(balance), say, weak abdominals. and a strong lower back is definitely an ally on the hill.
post #3 of 11
From an exercise perspective and when you're ready, straight leg deadlifts really help with the stretch and strength in one movement.

See how it's done.

W.
post #4 of 11
gashw,

great site! thanks.
post #5 of 11
Hi Kevin,
two comments:
1. don't try to keep up with the kids...they keep getting faster every year.
2. take up yoga or Tai Chi. Good stretching and balance of strength within limits.
my two cents
Ray
post #6 of 11
Did the same thing doing wind sprints at a rugby practice ( try to keep up to 20 year olds when your 40 even worse). No pop as I can remember and could walk after ward but no jog or run. Very much an imbalance between quads and hamstrings. I had a lovely bruise size of my hand above knee and half that size below which was in full glory about a week later.

Another excercise got at physio was lunges. Basically silly walk - big stride thigh at 90 ° to shin., wiyh back straight and hands on hips. then up straight on both feet then down on the next leg.
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Great advice all! Thanks!
post #8 of 11
If you really want to do it right, consider a few sessions of physical therapy. A physiatrist (a MD who specializes in physical therapy) or good physical therapist should take you through proper rehab and teach you strenghtening and stretching exercises. Both are very important to keeping a muscle injury free. And you can have both at the same time. Just as you have to lift weights to gain strength you have to do lots of stretching to maintain, and better yet, improve flexibility.

To keep injury free, warm up and cool down are essential. Warm up should include both stretching and some cardio. Both will improve blood flow to your muscles and get them ready for more strenuous activity. Cool down from skiing should include stretching. Cool down from highly aerobic activities should include cardio cool down as well as stretching. Best of luck!
post #9 of 11
Wow, where's Lisamarie? she's always so quick and knowledgable in responding to PT type matters.

I did almost the same thing (also playing soccer), went to a sports medicine doctor who refered me to a physical therapist where I worked for weeks stretching it, and under his care doing the whole RICE routine. Then I went out and did the exact same thing all over again because it had not totally healed. Hamstring injuries take more time than we usually want to allow. So, don't rush it!

Also, don't stop trying to keep up with the kids! When you're healed learn how to stretch and warm up, and only sprint flat out stride for stride with those 19 year olds when you really feel in the zone. Otherwise rely on your anticipation to get you there first!!

Best of luck, discretion is the better part of valor, be ready for the snow!
post #10 of 11
Everything people said on this thread was so accurate that you guys did not really need me on this!
Also, I mentioned this once before, recently, the laws against fitness trainers giving injury advice have gotten pretty stringent, especially over the internet, when you can't see the person. Ironically, this does not pertain to the rest of you, because you do not represent yourselves as professionals in the field. So in general, I monitor these threads and try to correct any misinformation I may see.
Occaisionally, I try to add some things, but you will note that my tone is non commital.

I can, however, talk about prevention. I am absolutely THRILLED that non professionals understand that just because the hamstrings may be tight, it does not mean that they are not weak. Ryan gave one the most intelligent explanations I have ever heard on that matter! [img]smile.gif[/img]
Quite often, women, {who are often Hyperflexible} whose ONLY fitness activity is a hatha type Yoga, are prime candidates for ACL injuries.

What twokiwis said about balancing hamstring quad strength before, or at least along with, developing core stability, is right on. Good luck, and keep us posted!

post #11 of 11
Hi kevin. Hope you are still checking for posts. I fix (permanantly) problems like this all the time. The advice about an imbalance between Quads and Hams is correct. Try lying on your back. Put a hand in the small of your back to create a lordosis (natural curve). Bend your leg (with the knee bent) until your knee is pointing to the ceiling. Holding your thigh in the vertical position straighten you leg out. Hopefully the angle of the thigh and shin is about 70 - 80 degrees. Next lie on your stomach. Get someone to bend your leg over until your heel hits your butt. You should be able to achieve this without lifting your hip of the floor. Ideally if your ham straightens out to 80 degrees or more your quad should allow your heel to go straight to your butt with little pressure. If the heel doesn't make it then you have an imbalance. hoe does this make you hamstring blow you may ask. Basically the tight Quads pull your pelvis forward creating a problem the affects 90 percent of the worlds population (including world class atheletes) known as an anteriorly (spelling?) tilted pelvis. In order to achieve this the hamstring must give a little against the much stronger quad. Basically the hamstring becomes long and week. When a muscle is long and week it blows apart very easily. I had a regularly blowing hamstring for the first 20 of the 23 years I have been in the gym and skiing. Three years ago I got all the damage rubbed out of my hamstrings, stopped stretching them and started stretching my quads three times per day. No more blown hamstring. no more low back pain. Many people correctly get in core strength training to sort out posture and low back pain. This is extremely important in assisting the pelvis to sit in its correct position. Unfortunately many trainers fail to recognise they must first address the tight quads before the hamstring and abdominals can play their part in core stability. give it a go and get back to me. I bet it is the problem. Never fails. If once you get the imbalance sorted and you still get pain you will have to find a deep tissue maasuer to rub out any adhesive fibrosis left behind by previous injuries as it is most likely this that is still causing micro tears. If done correctly it should make your eyes water and cause a bit of bruising. The bruising is simply the body removing all the crap left over from the adhesive fibrosis. If your massuer disagrees find another one. I would offer but I am way over here in New Zealand and a bit far away. hope you can imterpret what I am saying. Give it a go.
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