Last Monday I visited the sports medicine doctor who I saw years ago when I had knee pain after not experiencing much change in my hamstring from the rehab exercises prescribed by his athletic trainer. I was reminded why he is one of the best doctors I’ve ever visited. His thoroughness in the exam, ability to listen and respect that as an athlete I do know a thing or two about sports medicine, and eagerness to get me back to fully running again were of great comfort and reassurance.
After I passed a series of physical tasks, he had me lay down on the table with a heel in each of his hands and told me to push upward with each leg, a version of a single leg glute bridge in a sense. My right leg lifted fairly easily, but my left one wouldn’t budge. He diagnosed me with a grade 1 hamstring strain and recommended physical therapy to correct the obvious muscle imbalance between my hamstrings. He also provided me a run-walk plan after giving me permission to “experiment with jogging”.
A green light to run after over two weeks of not running was very welcome and I completed the first day of the plan on Tuesday. It consisted of walking for 10 minutes then alternating 1 minute of running with 1 minute of walking for 10 minutes then 10 minutes of walking again. I was elated to be able to do more than just walk for a change even if I only ran for 5 total minutes. I did feel my hamstring slightly during the run portions, but nothing severe and I didn’t feel anything later while sitting. The next day I completed 10 minutes of walking, 15 minutes of alternating 1 minute runs with 1 minute walks then a 5 minute walk. Again everything felt relatively good.
Thursday I had my evaluation with the physical therapist who felt that my injury was close to a month into the healing process. He advised it normally takes three months to be fully back to normal. Rather than add any additional rehab work, he advised that I should follow the run-walk plan and also add in some of my DailyBurn workouts so long as I avoided jumping, sprinting or quick change in direction (something also instructed by the sports med doc). His thought was if I were to experience the stronger hamstring pain again we would be able to more easily identify what caused it if I was only doing two types of exercise programs vs several. He said the goal was to gradually “load” the hamstring to enable the injured area to scar but maintain flexibility and strength. He had me schedule four additional one a week physical therapy sessions.
Later that day I completed a DailyBurn workout that was focused on cardio and upper body strength. I did the strength moves as shown, but chose the modified version of the cardio moves, doing step outs in place of jumping jacks, etc. It felt good to do a full workout without issue and even better when I had no pain later in the evening.
Friday I completed day three of the run walk plan. It kept the 10 minute walk but upped the running to 2 minutes alternating with 1 minute of walking for 15 minutes and the same 5 minute walk. The route I took around the neighborhood had a few more gradual inclines and I felt the hamstring more than usual. That evening while watching TV the deep throbbing returned, and it was hard to find a comfortable position to sit. Anytime I woke up during the night I also felt a slight twinge going from being in bed to standing.
Slightly alarmed, I emailed the physical therapist Saturday morning and was grateful he gave me the option to do that. He responded fairly quickly and advised rather than move onto day four of the run-walk plan to repeat day three again. I was a tad bummed as I had hoped to finish all of week 1’s workouts that week, but figured best to take one step forward and one step back instead of two steps back. I intended to do the workout again on Saturday, but Jason and I ended up test driving then buying a used Toyota RAV4 and had to meet a lady from church in the afternoon to visit the Congolese family in Lancaster (blog entry on that to come later this week) so I had no time. It ended up as a day off which probably wasn’t a bad thing.
This morning I repeated day three and still noticed the hamstring, but not to the extent I did on Friday. I also had no pain upon sitting and using the laptop for an extended period of time which was a good sign. It feels like a slightly slow, tedious process to get back to fully running again and I know my running group is missing me. I am really grateful to be running at all though even if it’s a limited amount and requires monitoring my Garmin watch a whole lot more than I ever normally do. Sometimes it’s even a bit fun to go from walking to running and that’s saying something given I hated fartlek workouts in high school. Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on that I’ll someday do speed workouts that go from running to sprinting for a few minutes!