Well – today is my birthday and I am celebrating it with a hamstring injury. It’s time to buck up on this blog and get down to why this blog is called “Tight Hams.” I have tight hamstrings and like most runners, I am prone to injury just like everyone else.
I am pretty sure I hurt my hamstring while weight lifting but it may have been that I strained it before I started lifting and in the process of lifting weights, really got that tear going.
It looks like rest, massage, and ice are the best remedies for this type of sports injury and since I have had physical therapy on everything from my feet to my knees to my hips, this is really the best one can do.
Now in the throes of training, this sucks but that’s when injury tends to happen. I ran my schedule three 5-mile runs last week but took Monday off and walked/jogged about 1.5 miles just to loosen up. Last night when I played tennis, I was conservative and found that I could not just dive for the ball. The pain and tightness in my left thigh just hurts.
Hamstring Injury Prevention:
Of course, I would be remiss if I did not mention that stretching before and after you run is absolutely crucial, but I notice that most running articles do not mention the fact that you must stretch a lot more than that. If you are prone to getting tight, you must stretch throughout the day. Sitting at the desk without any stretching will only make things worse. Think of all the stress and other things that make us tense up. If we don’t take the time to run into the bathroom and stretch or do it publicaly like do, then we are not doing ourselves any service at all.
I can often be found with my leg up on something – especially in the bathroom, to give myself a quick stretching session during the day. And ladies – if you are like me and wear heels to the office, stretching becomes that much more important. I try not to wear heels over 2 inches on most days because I want to preserve my hamstrings. And the reality? I run around the office so fast that no one notices my shoes anyway so I spend my money on nicer clothes and go boring on the shoes – aiming for comfort instead of stiletto heels and tight leather shoes.
The Foot Bone’s Connected to the, Ankle Bone, etc.
Since we are on the subject of shoes, let’s talk feet for a minute. After I had my kids, I went to a podiatrist because my feet were hurting. The doctor told me my arch had flattened and that my feet had widened. Better my feet than other parts of my body, but when the doctor told me to switch to wide shoes, I was like “no way Jose’!”
I mean come on, purchase all new shoes in wide width? Well, I chose not to do that for all my shoes but I did change my purchasing behavior. No pointy toed shoes and only shoes with a more square toe to accommodate the widening of the balls of my feet.
What does this have to do with your hamstrings? Everything. If there is something going on physiologically with another part of your body and you don’t work to correct that problem, others will crop up and you’ll get the snowball effect. Your feet may get some rest from wearing lower heels and stretching more but if you still feel pain in your foot, you will naturally adjust your stride to make the pain less and soon, you will find you have pain in your knees, hips, shins and hamstrings.
The goal of running is balance. Pay attention to everything that hurts and fix the problems when the doctor says so. Even though I did not change my work shoes, I did go wide on my running shoes. I use the Asics 2130 (2120 is last year’s model and is still around) series and I just walk into MetroSports each year and pick up a pair of my shoes, size 9 wide.
At first the shoe felt too roomy and now I don’t think I will ever wear a regular size running shoe again. I have plenty of room for my toes to splay while I run and therefore, the foot pain is gone.
Back to Hamstring Injury
For those of us with continued hamstring problems we are going to have to understand that ice is our friend. I iced my hamstrings yesterday and really got some relief from that. Tylenol is also light on the stomach and liver so if you need a pain killer, my general physician recommended this pain reliever.
I have no idea when the pain in my hamstring will go away. With two races looming in the not-to-distant future I may need to scale back my runs or take more days off. I will also have to consider my stretching routine and make sure that I am doing everything in my power to stretch correctly without hurting my back.
Look for my next article on the iliotibitol band. An very common and very potentially devastating knee injury. Some stretches for the hamstrings and the iliotibitol band are the same.ILIOTIBIAL BAND
The following site offers some good information:
See the right way to stretch hamstrings at: