Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Hamstring Rehab and Week 9 IMMY

Injury is the devil to all athletes, both pros and age-grouper. More often than not, these injuries can be prevented by being a bit more sensitive to how the body reacts to training. Too much and too soon usually lend to more problems and it can be demerital for someone that is training for something big.
Closer to home, I am at the verge of committing this preventable injury known as hamstring pull or strain.
How It Happen:
Believe it or not, Hamstring injury is not exclusive to people training for specific sports, it happen for people that sit too long everyday at the desk too. This is how many of you non-active people pick up a bad backache and hamstring injury as they are both interlinked via the Sciatic nerves! Read about Sciatica here
I do not have an issue with this as I actually stand up and perform my work in the office. I take it as an opportunity to stretch my lower body while typing away. Here is my all time favourite (because this is the single best way to loosen those calves!)
Calf Stretch. Photo Credit Jay Sulivan
For me specifically, these hamstring problem/injury/strain is due to me clocking in those mileage over the past 9 weeks. Progressively loading the body with longer distance if not higher intensity, something got to give. I take it as part and parcel of my journey.
Here is the funny thing - my experience with Sciatica and rehabilitation of it equipped me with more than adequate knowledge to help prevent recurrences of these injuries - but somehow, it still happen and I now find myself revisiting my own notes figuring how to "fix" this.

Main Cause of Hamstring Injury
1. Imbalanced muscle. The hamstring being used more and caused the muscle to get stronger in relation to the quadriceps (thigh muscles), causing it to be tight and preventing the leg from extending fully (straight)
2. Explosive movement. Caused by sudden burst of speed during race/training. Enough said. I been going 100% if not 110% on my speedwork and hillwork.
3. Not using the hip flexor adequately during run. This limit me from using the hamstring fully. Despite correcting my gait and running style, I still fail to "run from the hip".
4. Overtraining. I believe I am not at that stage as i did not exhibit the symptoms, but it could be myself over-estimating my capabilities. The mind is a very strong muscle and often, it manage to convince us to do things we could not - and pushing beyond our own capabilities is one of them, which we will pay later in form of injury. *ting ting*

Rehab and Fixing it
Here is the bad news - hamstring injury is the toughest to heal (completely) and it will take time. I have about 40 more weeks before Ironman Malaysia, but what about the other races in between now and then?

The push to get the body back in order starts immediately with simple RICE or Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. I been utilising the ice-bricks in the freezer and placed it on the hamstring for about 20minutes every day or on days I could afford to do it more often. This will minimise the swelling.  Applying compression has been minimal that I uses trigger point massage more to elevate the pain- and it is working. I often sleep with my feet elevated (with a pillow) as that is the best way to recover even from walking. Now, REST, that is the toughest part. I am getting to that soon (to make rest part of the plan)

I have been foam rolling and stretching and that could had prevented the pull moving from stage 2 to stage 3 (complete tear). I know loading on the mileage and keeping the intensity high is the main reason for this. Foam rolling helped with keeping the ITBS and PF at bay, but I totally took the ham for granted - just because they have never complained. If you are suffering the same, i have a guide to make your own foam roller. Not very swanky, but it work as well as those sold for 7 times the price.

What other things I could do? Do share. I am on my learning curve and am all ears (and eyes).

Massages? Yeap, I have incorporated it into my plans and try to do it once a month. Been helping especially the last session where the hamstring trigger point was deactivated and a relief were felt - big time. 

Week 9 Ironman Malaysia training log
After a "take it easy" Week 8 clocking below par distance in training and seeking the distance drop the past 3-weeks, I am hoping that Week 10 will see the return of the mileage and time spent on the road and saddle. It is often easier to be in denial and ignore these because of personal ego and to avoid those "I told you so" questions by friends and family. Here for the long(er) run, so I have to remind myself, with help from friends and family, that it is OK to slow down and reassess.
Thank you, dearest wifey for the support given thus far over the past 9 weeks of intense base building, which I would term as a success. I've never bike that much before, let alone spending 30mins on the average EVERYDAY perfecting the push-pull pedalling and staying in the aero-position. Never easy, and those of you in the same boat as me, heading the same (Xterra Malaysia, Ironman 70.3 and Ironman Malaysia) direction, be reminded to allocate rest in between those hard training days.
See you on the road!


  1. Any advice I would give, you have already listed above. Perhaps include a rest day once a week or at least every 2 weeks. Get well soon Stupe!

    1. Thanks Kev. Being in denial is easy, recovery is tough.