On Tuesday, I met with my general practitioner to get some advice on my right leg that has been frequently injured over the past year. I believe this is occurring due to an old injury to my hamstring. My doctor is a runner, an athlete, and a health advocate and has an amazing bedside manner. When I mentioned my hamstring before, she checked it, suggested some yoga and core work. At that time it was not causing any major issues so we moved on. Tuesday was a different story. After I told her the series of injuries I have had this year she gave me a concerned look and said I needed to see both an orthopedist and a physical therapist. She simply said I had too many injuries on that side and we need to find out why and fix it. I agreed. We both thought it was related to the hamstring but we were not sure. It was another “is it the chicken or the egg” scenarios.
My original injury occurred 5 years ago while I was working out at the gym. Unbeknownst to me, I was 5 weeks pregnant, which may have played into the reason for the injury in the first place. I was working out at the gym doing my favorite workout. It is a 5k run, to a 2-mile interval sprints, to 20 minutes of plyometrics and lifting intervals. This workout takes a little over an hour but it was packs the punch that I need. At that time (and now) I have a very limited amount of time to workout so I tried to cram in as much as I could in this full body workout. One of the lifting sequences was a dynamic side lunge with weights to an overhead press, 3 sets of 20 reps on each side. In my lunge sequence I felt a big pop right underneath my tush where the hamstring attaches to the bone. I immediately knew something bad happened. In keeping with my personality, I decided I did not need to go to the doctor. My leg was still attached and I could walk. Unless a body part is missing or something is hanging off I avoid the doctors. I grew up with military doctors, what can I say. I rested, and then I began a pretty rigorous stretching regime and went back to my schedule. I still tried to workout while I was pregnant but I took it pretty easy. The problem is I never completely healed from that injury. I found out today, that I likely will not because of the location of the tear. This year I have torn my quadriceps, I have pulled something in my knee, my hip kills me and it is now radiating into my lower back and I tore some ligaments in my foot (or perhaps a minor stress fracture).
I met with the physical therapist to assess the issue. I will work with her twice a week for some time. Next week I will meet with an orthopedist who works primarily in sports medicine. Hopefully between the two I will have a better understanding of my issue and be able to manage it correctly.
What I found out today from my PT, is it is very likely that all of my issues are occurring because I have been compensating for so long to guard that hamstring. My hamstring will never be the same because I injured it where it connects to the bone. The scar tissue build up will limit my flexibility and my strength in that area. She said I have done a great job rebuilding the flexibility and strength on my own. Obviously, I still need some help. I don’t seem to have any glaring weak areas or imbalances and she was very happy with my overall muscular and ligament strength. The big issue she found was I have a lot of tightness in my hip, glut, and oblique on my right side. My range of motion and strength are still good but I am tight comparably to my left side. I am definitely guarding something. She said my flexibility and strength are going to make it more difficult to break through to see the issue. It will be harder to find stretches that loosen up that area as I am already fairly flexible and I have a lot of muscle guarding the joint. She is going to have to loosen up the hip before she can really get to the root of the problem. I am assuming a lot of this is good for me but I will be making her work. We will be working on flexibility and building up my core (sound familiar).
My acute and present issue is my right foot. I wrote about hurting it a couple of weeks ago. It is still messed up but the bruising went down after standing in the freezing rain for 2 hours last week (it was the ice bath I needed:). I told her I wanted to continue running. She said I will not recover as fast and my PT will not be as effective. She said I have a lot going on and running will not help. I told her I have a half marathon in a month and soccer to finish out. She started in on a speech about how it is hard for athletes especially psychologically to limit or stop training but something in my face made her stop mid-speech. She began to back pedal and basically left it up to me. I think she knew that my foot would need to be chopped off for me not to proceed as planned. I will continue to assess the issue and monitor my pain as the weeks progress. At this point, I believe it is as bad as it will get. I can manage this so I proceed as planned. I can rest after November and focus on swimming and biking over the winter months. Who knows how this will affect my running into the future but for now I have a race to train for and everyone needs to get on board, doctors included.