A world of pain!
According to a statistic stated by Dr. Nicholas Romanov (world renown running coach) 2 out of 3 people who run get injured. There are several reasons for this, ranging from poor technique to over training or simple freak accidents. The likelihood of getting injured is a reality that all runners must face at some point. Many of these injuries CAN be avoided if you follow accepted training practices and techniques, as well as following good health and fitness advice. A strong, healthy body will resist injury or illness more readily than a sickly and unhealthy one. If you are not actively making yourself stronger, then you are actively making yourself weaker. It is imperative to maintain proper health and nutrition. The power that made the body has the power to heal the body, but that only works when you give it the proper building blocks it needs to maintain peak-level fitness. Your health is a form of personal wealth, treat it as such.
One of the most common injuries that runners face is the pulled or torn hamstring.
The hamstrings are three muscle-tendons on the back of each thigh that run from your hip to just below your knee. Their names are the Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus, and the Biceps femoris.
They function together to control the swing, extension, and retraction of hip and knee while running. A sudden jarring impact or weird twisting motion between landing and launching yourself while in motion can cause the hamstrings to strain beyond normal tolerances causing tears in the muscle fibers. This is often caused by over-extending one’s stride and landing heel first. Heavier runners, a.k.a Clydesdales , have the added stress of a greater body weight increasing stress and strain on muscles and joints, making them more susceptible to injury.
Perhaps you got caught up in the moment during a heated race with a rival, or you simply weren’t paying attention because you were distracted and lost focus. WHAM! You suddenly felt a sharp pain in your leg, and or felt a popping sound. You overdid it. Accidents are never intentional, and so you injured your hamstring. Now what?
When the point of breaking strain has been reached by the hamstrings, there are three degrees (or grades) of injury. Pray for the first two degrees.
1st degree– Mild strain causing sudden pain and tenderness at the back of your knee and thigh. Painful, but you can still limp and walk slowly. Go home and rest.
2nd degree– Partial tearing of the hamstrings, VERY painful and tender with some swelling and a loss of strength in your leg. If you see bruising, you may want to see a doctor to have him check it.
3rd degree– Severe tearing or full detachment of the hamstring. Immediately go to the hospital! Your leg will be tender, swollen and very bruised, and you will have heard and felt the popping at the moment of injury. You will not be able to stand or walk, and hamstring re-attachment surgery will be required. This is often a career ending injury. Months of physical therapy will be required, and your leg will never regain its former strength. This is the worst possible hamstring injury.
The road to recovery
In the case of a 1st degree hamstring injury, recovery can occur within 3 weeks, a 2nd degree injury will take longer. Self-care and rest is recommended, no hospitalization is required. IF you have a specific question as to the severity of your injury, you MAY choose to consult a doctor, but homecare is often the treatment for the 1st and 2nd degree injury. (If you had a 3rd degree injury, you probably left the race in an ambulance. )
As you recover, it is important to take it easy. Avoid excessive physical activities that involve putting stress and strain on your leg. Favor your injured leg, especially when ascending or descending stairs. NO RUNNING!
Use the R.I.C.E therapy method. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
Light stretching exercises and foam roller therapy will aid in the recovery process.
Avoid pain killers such as NSAIDs like ibuprofen. Painkillers mask the pain, pain is your friend. It tells you to STOP DOING THAT. If you can’t feel the pain you’ll keep hurting the injury without knowing it, making things worse. Use topical pain-relieving gels or ointments like ICY HOT, TIGER BALM, BIOFREEZE, or BLUE EMU. Pro-tip, always spring for the MAXIMUM or ULTRA strengths, and don’t waste your money on the dollar-store knock-offs.
The key take-away is rest up, slow down, take time to heal , and live to race another day!
You can find me at these upcoming races:
Third Thirsty Thursday 5K Race Series – Race 5/7 August 19th @7:00 pm Reading PA
Be sure to check back on August 8th for another article.
As always, I wish you success and happiness!