Diagnosis

Following a sad and painful run on Tuesday, I made an appointment for Wednesday (yesterday) to see Dr. J, sports chiropractor/ART therapist extraordinaire.  I reminded him of our first appointment, how he worked on my left hip, but now my right hip was hurting and in a completely different way.  Upon telling him about my symptoms, he responded that it was typical for pain to travel after the initial area was starting to resolve.  Now, travel I like.  Traveling pain?  Not so much.  We both agreed that the likely culprit wasn’t when he worked out my left hip, but when he reintroduced more dorsiflexion in my right ankle.  Dr. J said that your body gets used to a certain way of doing things (like limited range of motion in my ankle), and when something changes (like increased dorsiflexion), other parts of the body might respond (like my hip).

Regardless of the cause of my hip pain, Dr. J was relieved when I told him the pain was not so much in my hip joint or the glute area, but in the highest part of my hamstring.  He was happy to hear where the pain was located because the hamstring would be an easier fix than the joint (like, if my bones were grinding against each other).  He checked my passive range of motion and found that my right hip was indeed limited compared to the left.  After a bit of poking and prodding, he confirmed that the pain was emanating from my high hamstring.  Next, we proceeded to the actual ART session.  As he applied pressure to my hamstring, I yelped in pain.  There was NO WAY I would be able to move and swing my leg down as he had instructed me to do.  So, he called Dr. C, another ART therapist, into the room, and together, they went to town on my hamstring, with Dr. J applying pressure and Dr. C pulling and stretching my right leg.  It was horrible, yet I felt like something good had to come from this (or at least that’s what I told myself).  Dr. J then did a bit more work on the trouble spots from last session — my left hip, which I felt has considerably improved in the past 10 days (but still quite tight) and my right ankle.  We were well past my scheduled appointment slot, but Dr. J threw in about 5-10 minutes of extra time with the electro stimulation machine, placing 2 pads each on my right hamstring and left glute.

So, the good news is that based on his exam, Dr. J did not think I had injured myself horribly.  Nothing was torn or broken.  Hooray!!!  When I asked him (skeptically) if I could still run Big Basin, he replied that I *could*, but wasn’t super enthusiastic about it.  I came away with the feeling that I had a yellow light for Big Basin — that I can run it without seriously injuring myself, but I’d also have to be willing to tolerate the pain.  Luckily, Coastal offers a partial refund policy with 48 hour notice, so I have until next Friday to make a decision.

For the time being, Dr. J recommended the following:

  • Ice both hips 3x/day, 20 minutes each time, with cold packs.
  • Strengthen (!!!!) hips, glutes, hamstrings, everything
  • Order of execution for each muscle group: (1) warm-up/strengthen, (2) massage like crazy with foam roller, stick, and/or ball, and (3) stretch deeply.

I told Dr. J that I’d been doing a lot of cold stretching.  He said that was basically useless — stretching works a lot better on warm muscles.  Duly noted!

So, armed with all of this new advice and freshly massaged legs, I headed to the gym this morning for 3-4 treadmill miles.  I figured that the treadmill would provided an even, controlled surface and I could quit if I had to.  Everything was fine until about 2.5 miles, when the right hamstring made itself known with pulsating pain.  In full hippie/yoga mode, I “breathed into it” and tried to relax instead of tensing up.  It worked!  Well, not completely, but it was much better.  Then, around 3.3 miles, I could feel my left glute starting to tighten up.  It didn’t get bad (it almost never does, not like the right hamstring), so I was fine until I completely my run at 4 miles.

I’ve had a couple of moments today of sudden pain in my hamstring (oddly, while I’ve been sitting), but after a few pulses, it’s gone away.  And unlike Tuesday, where I hobbled around for a half day, I haven’t limped at all today.  It’s too early to say whether my hamstring will continue to behave or not, but I’m feeling optimistic, which might be the most powerful medicine of all. #CheesyButTrue

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About

Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in Injuries
16 comments on “Diagnosis
  1. BT says:

    As painful as this sounds, I’m so happy for you. I do believe learning the difference between good pain and bad pain is at least half the battle (even though it’s not pleasant). Sounds like you are well on your way!

    • Jen says:

      Yes, it’s really been a learning experience! I guess I’d rather err on the side of caution and while the pain is still “good”.

  2. Dominick S. says:

    How about you take a break from running???? Yoga is fantastic but I think Pilates might be a great solution as well. And you know…if you take a complete break from everything for like a week, you won’t die or gain a million pounds and your body maaaaay be thankful?

    • Jen says:

      No way Jose! Just kidding. Actually, my legs feel great after swimming and biking, so I’ll stick with that while everything heals up. I’m not a huge fan of Pilates because (it seems like) it takes so long to get just decent at it, and I often strain my neck in the process (I know, I’m probably doing it wrong.) Plus there aren’t as many studios around compared to yoga. Thanks for the suggestions!

  3. Hamstring problems are the worst. I’ve had a ganky right hamstring for nearly three years now (though mine’s lower hamstring, where yours is upper). It is better now, in part because I do a lot more stretching and strength training these days. But every once in awhile it acts up, and I just want to go out and kick an armadillo.

    Regarding cold-stretching, yup, don’t do it. It’s something I’ve only educated myself about in the past two years. Before I run, I may do some dynamic stretching — leg swings (back & forth and to the sides), lunges, high knee raises — and then do all my static stretching immediately after a run. I find that it really has to be immediate because I tighten up even 10 minutes after a run.

    G’luck with recovery!

    • Jen says:

      The funny thing is that I never cold stretch before I run. Like you, I do dynamic stretches pre-run, then static stretching after. The cold stretching I was doing was later in the day, where I’ve gotten into a pre-bedtime stretch routine. That I did cold… and I wondered why I wasn’t seeing any improvement! The cool thing (no pun intended) is that even without a warm-up, just rolling the heck out of my muscles before stretching has made a big difference.

  4. Angela says:

    Good to know nothing major is wrong! Stretch/roll/strengthen seems to be the order of the day with everyone I know lately….

  5. Sesa says:

    Dr. J? Are we seeing the same chiro? 🙂

    I saw my own Dr. J yesterday, and he pretty much gave me the same recommendations. Two friends of mine signed up for Big Basin but one had drop out because of a hip issue and the other is on a run break because of leg pain … man.

    I’m glad you’re not injured. I thought about volunteering at Big Basin after my friends signed up, and if you go I’d love to meet you 🙂

    • Jen says:

      Haha, that would be funny if we had the same chiro. My Dr. J is in Alameda, so I don’t think so?!

      So it sounds like I can blame my hip and hamstring pain on signing up for Big Basin. 😉 I also know someone who might DNS due to hip and foot pain. Sigh. But if I decide to run, I’ll definitely let you know. It’d be great to meet you IRL!

  6. JS says:

    Glad to hear that you’re not seriously injured. 🙂

  7. Mike says:

    Strengthen everything, I like that… a sure-fire cure for all seasons. For now I’d agree that rest is best, but at the same time (as you’re now well aware) rest alone will likely not prevent this from recurring. So this is a great opportunity to strengthen the offending muscle groups.

    My brother’s had a chronic hamstring injury that’s taken a long while to heal, primarily because his treatment focused on the hamstring itself, which turns out was like changing the tires on your car when it’s actually out of gas. Doesn’t do a lot of good. Now that he’s working diligently to engage and strengthen his glutes, his hamstring pain has diminished significantly and he’s back to running regularly.

    If your hamstring pain persists, and if you haven’t already, I’d suggest you research high hamstring tendinopathy to see if it bears any resemblance to what you’re experiencing… here’s a starting point: http://www.active.com/running/Articles/How-to-Treat-and-Prevent-Running-Injuries-Hamstring-Tendinopathy.htm?

    Hopefully this is completely useless advice and you’ve still got Big Basin in your crosshairs!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for all of the helpful information, Mike. I actually did look into HHT last week, and my case doesn’t completely jive with what I’ve read. It seems more like a sprain. (Not sure what the difference is, to be honest, but I don’t think I have HHT.) Complete tangent — one anatomical term that I’ve come to love is ischial tuberosity.

      Question for you: why/how did you decide to run Big Sur, in spite of the plantar fasciitis?

  8. Jan says:

    Hey at least you have a plan of action now, and someone to offer advice! Hope you improve rapidly!

  9. […] realized that a too-high percentage of the bloggers I follow have recently been injured, among them Jen with her traveling hip pain, Jeff with his overworked Achilles, and Scott with his own amazing (and […]

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