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