Just some April [snow] showers to start off our week; Spring is always such a tease in the beginning. Somehow, I have sustained yet another injury; a pulled hamstring is no joke. Sitting down, standing up, normal things are so unbelievable painful. Hamstrings are large muscles and can take months to heal. For someone who considers fitness equal to water and oxygen, laying off for that long is just impossible. So how do we workout through such a bad injury? Some advice tells you not to. I say, I’m going to find a way.
I’m not a PT or an orthopedic doctor, don’t get excited.
How to workout with a hamstring injury
- Do not, do not, work the affected area. Leave it to your PT to recommend exercises for strengthening and rehabilitation. I am so tempted to just workout through the pain, but I know it isn’t worth it. Extending the life of your recovery period is just pointless on so many levels.
- DO workout a different part of your body! For example, I am going to have extremely strong arms at the end of this.
- If you are working with hand weights, increase the weight a few pounds. (I usually use 5 lbs, I am now using 12!) Increase weight and decrease repetitions. Your heart rate will soar because of the added poundage, but the risk that you strain some part of the injured area decreases. Also, make sure that if you do use weights, you are not using other muscles that may be injured to assist in lifting them. E.G. If I use weights that are too heavy, instead of isolating my arms, I notice that my hamstrings engage when I lift the weights; a no-no.
- Do not workout for too long. 20-30 minutes is all I’ve been doing, and that is including frequent water breaks. Yes, we want to feel our blood moving, but don’t tire out your healthy muscles too much right now; you need them to do the work of the injured ones.
- Do not workout every day. It is never recommended to work out every day, especially when incorporating weights and especially when you are only focusing on one muscle group.
Additional things to consider
A whole world of possibilities opens up with recovery in sight. For me personally, my injuries are the kind that take forever to heal. So what to I do? I jump right back in with a weighted-whole body-piyo/cross-fit/half-marathon palooza and promptly injure myself right over again. It’s frustrating and entirely unsatisfying to do incomplete (isolated) workouts for such a long time. Keep these things in mind.
- Do not begin working out at the level you were at prior to injuring yourself. the injured muscles are still tender. They need to be slowly worked back to their prime condition.
- During your recovery, dedicate the time you would be doing a wonderful whole-body workout to rehabilitation exercises. Use a foam roller, or just bend/stretch (slowly!) the affected area. When my boyfriend had a shoulder injury his PT told him to use light weights while stretching just to send warmth to the affected muscle and slowly strengthen it during the healing process. He also workout out only the other side throughout the duration of the injury and only got the tiniest bit lopsided. It was fine.
- Be patient. It’s hard to lose progress, but you have a solid foundation and will get back into fighting shape. Just trust yourself.
If you have had surgery or a serious injury that you went to a doctor for, I’d recommend not following any of this. Like I said, I am not a doctor. I just know that in my personal (and unfortunately vast) experience with recovering from injuries, I have come up with these little tidbits to get myself through. It’s depressing to be injured, and if it lasts long enough you just accept the pain as part of life. It isn’t so don’t. Most injuries heal, you just have to wait and do the best things for your body.
What is your experience with injury? Do you cut out exercise cold turkey or try to power through? What are your steps for recovery?