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Old 01-30-12, 08:47 PM   #1
MinnMan
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nagging hamstring injury - any with similar experience?

I posted this to the Training and Nutrition forum a few days ago, but didn't get much response. Maybe there isn't that much traffic over there, or maybe there isn't much for people to say on the topic.....

I'm looking for advice about a leg injury. If you've had something similar to what I'll describe, I'd like to know how you recovered.

I've been struggling for a couple of months with a minor but annoying injury that I attribute to a pulled hamstring. The pain is high on the back of my thigh, and deep into the muscle - not near the surface. There's no visible swelling or blemishes. The pain is not acute and initially I just kept riding with it - I"m not even sure I can say when the problem began, but it got more and more annoying and sore.

First, I took a couple of days off and the leg seemed to feel better, but when I started riding again, the pain crept back, from barely perceptible slowly to rather sore (but again, never acute).

So then I took 12 days off and went camping with my family and the leg felt much better (though perhaps not 100%, I could still feel twinges if I moved my leg the wrong way). On returning, I though I'd take an easy ride to see if I was better - 20 miles at modest pace, but even after a few miles it was clear that the soreness was going to return. Two days later I could still feel some soreness from that ride.

Reading about hamstring injuries on the internets, it seems that I have a minor (class 1) hamstring pull. These are supposed to heal on their own, albeit they take some time. But my concern is that the injury has something of a "permanent" feel. If I rest the soreness and inflamation go down, but the essential weakness seems to persist, such that any cycling activity will reactivate the injury. Apart from that one 20 mile ride, I've been basically off the bike for 16 days and I still feel it when I (gently) move my leg in just the wrong way. The info recommends icing the leg, but I don't really think that will help - the soreness is very deep in the leg, not near where ice will affect it. In the last few days I've taken some iboprufen, and that does seem to help.

I'm living overseas from my usual home until May, and this adds several problems:

1. It's not possible to be truly immobile. I have no car here, and Canberra is very spread out. I have a 2 mile bike commute (or walk) just to get to work. I put platform pedals on my bike and I take it very easy, and this seems to be OK, but it's not ideal. I don't know if a 2 mile walk would be better or worse. Around here even just going to the grocery store is a hike.

2. My health insurance situation here really only amounts to urgent care situations.

Being off the bike is driving me crazy. Has anybody had experience with this kind of injury? I'm thinking that I had better lower my seat once I begin riding again, but first I have to get over the problem. Advice is welcome (but "go see your doctor" won't help me here).
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Old 01-30-12, 08:58 PM   #2
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These are supposed to heal on their own, albeit they take some time.
I've pulled other tendons before, and it does take time. Not days or weeks, but months. Give time time.
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Old 01-30-12, 09:53 PM   #3
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I've pulled other tendons before, and it does take time. Not days or weeks, but months. Give time time.
How much riding did you do during those months?
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Old 01-31-12, 04:24 AM   #4
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Minnman: As I was reading your post I kept thinking that it could have been me authoring it. I pulled my left hamstring 15 miles from home in 95 degree heat and had no other choice but to HTFU home. This was back in early August. It wasn't bad enough to quit riding but would announce itself a couple times a week. I backed way off of my mileage, avoided high temperature situations and increased warm-up duration. It wasn't until Oct that it went away. Did I do the best thing for it? Maybe not but it was a livable compromise.
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Old 01-31-12, 09:09 AM   #5
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I pulled a ham during the SeaGull. I continued to ride the same amount which I was accustomed to, around 5k yearly. the pain actually took about a year to go away. Hamstring stretchs might also help.
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Old 01-31-12, 09:34 AM   #6
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FWIW, I found out that my "muscle" pains were referred pain from my very screwed up back. Not likely, but one more thing to put on your worry list. They went away after my L4-L5 fusion.

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Old 01-31-12, 09:49 AM   #7
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Do the Drs put a limit on your weightlifting after fusion?
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Old 01-31-12, 09:52 AM   #8
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Do the Drs put a limit on your weightlifting after fusion?
No, not after complete healing. I am at the point where they could remove the appliances - the bone is completely fused.
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Old 01-31-12, 09:53 AM   #9
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Yes, and suffered for the better part of two years. Massage did not work. I eventually went to a chiropractor who treated it with acupuncture, laser and Graston. It took two months of weekly treatment and is now back to 100%. Tough area to treat and takes time due to minimal blood flow in the area. I did not stop cycling through the treatment but did back off intensity.
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Old 01-31-12, 09:54 AM   #10
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Do the Drs put a limit on your weightlifting after fusion?
None for me either and I had 2 levels (L4-L5 and L5-S1) fused and plated/caged.
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Old 01-31-12, 09:55 AM   #11
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MinnMan, I canít help you with your injury, but it doesnít sound like a typical hamstring pull. I have had several hamstring injuries while running track in college. My experience of pain and recovery is much different from yours. My hamstring injuries were sudden and occurred when running at near maximum speed. It would feel like a dog suddenly took a bite out of the back of my leg and stopping from a full on run with one leg was an experience that is hard to forget. The pain in the muscle would be an intense hot/burning sensation that did not subside even when sitting down or standing. The next day there would still be significant pain and building stiffness in the muscle. Just walking would be a task and I would basically rely on the other leg to keep momentum in my stride. Pulling back with the leg for any reason would elicit the pain. The process of healing/recovery would be several weeks while the muscle healed and swelling in the muscle reduced. There would also be a visible pooling of blood behind the lower hamstring area above the knee that would appear as a yellow tinge to the skin with a blackened area that would remain for a while. Believe it or not, one of the recovery therapies was riding my Raleigh Super Course to keep some fitness and create movement in the muscles to assist in the removal of fluids in the leg. Other therapies included standing in a tub of water with ice for 20 minutes then 5 minutes of easy stretching, then repeat. They also had me take plenty of Tylenol. I could begin running again once the everyday pain went away and I did not push the efforts. Returning to running would be slow and distance oriented. Once able, I would do the sprinter workouts but might begin the 200/300 meter repeats by building up from a jog to avoid the harsh sendoff needed to get up to speed. During the recovery there was a dull feeling in the hamstring that always reminded me of the potential of a sudden re-injury of the muscle. I cannot recall re-injuring the same leg during the recovery or having any setbacks. Good luck with your recovery.
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Old 01-31-12, 10:34 AM   #12
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Hamstrings are chronically weak as we don't use them very much, so they are easy to get tight and strain. You should try and warm the area (I.E. take a hot bath and soak for 20 minutes) and then stretch the hams and and glutes. The stretch should be pain free and static. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then relax and shake out your leg, then stretch and hold for 45 seconds. Relax and shake out your leg, then stretch and hold for one minute. It takes a minute of stretching to retrain the muscle to relax. You need to concentrate and make sure you are relaxing when you stretch. Do your exercises and take it easy. If it hurts, modify your activity.

After you are done with exercising, do the stretching routine again and then ice the area for 20-30 minutes. While the tissue is thick, the ice will still cool the area and help to reduce swelling. You also need to start a hamstring strengthening program to keep the problem from returning.

This could be something else though, such as bursitis or other problems. Hard to tell without doing an evaluation on you, but the best thing you can do is a good all around stretching and strengthening program of both legs and your back, and when you are done then definitely ice the area that hurts. 20 minutes is normally the maximum time you would ice an area, but with deep tissue you can push it to 30 minutes on and at least 45 minutes off. The tissue should be warm before you ice again, but if you sit on the ice you will also get some compression.

You can ice all day (I.E. 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off) and it will help reduce the swelling to the area. Keep an eye on the injury and if it doesn't seem to get better then it may be something else. Bursitis takes a LONG time to heal, and if you are sitting on the bursa sack it takes even longer, so make sure you have adequate padding if you need it.

If things don't get better then you need to find a doctor. If you are near a place that has a sports team, see if they have a Athletic Trainer (Sports medicine) and see if the trainer will evaluate you. They may be able to tell you for sure what is wrong and probably won't charge you anything.
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Old 01-31-12, 08:05 PM   #13
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Thanks guys - lots of useful information.
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