I don’t know that I ever came full circle and said I am no long dealing with the hamstring and glute issues I had during the winter. I am happy to report that for the past couple of months, I have not had the nagging hamstring pain that once plagued me for many months this winter (and last winter for that matter too).
A little recap on how these problems arose:
It was September 2012 and I had just completed 105 miles that week. I had been very careful about increasing my mileage slowly (never more than 10% each week), but 105 miles is a lot to ask your body to run. I had recently started a desk job 1.5 months prior and thought that might be contributing to the glute and hamstring pain. I ended up running the Twin Cities Marathon on my ache glute because I spent so much time training—and I’m stubborn when it comes to my running. Plus the pain was quite tolerable, honestly, it never developed past a dull ache.
After the marathon I took some time off and didn’t do any running for nearly a month. I spent the time cross-training, icing, and taking it easy. However, I didn’t see any improvement, so I finally gave up and went to see the physical therapist.
The physical therapist actually prescribed two exercises that have since healed my glute and hamstring and rehealed it when the pain flared up again this past winter.
This is definitely a challenging exercise. It helps improves my balance, and I definitely can feel it in my glutes after three sets.
I use a 10 pound dumbbell in my hand and complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions on both legs.
Side Plank with Leg Lift
This exercise is even more difficult. I can barely squeak out 10 repetitions on a good day. Guess that proves my glutes really are weak.
When I first started doing these, I propped my elbow on a taller surface: chair, bench, coffee table before I worked down to the ground level. I still struggle to do complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions, so sometimes I have to cheat and bend my supporting leg and lay it on the floor.
These two exercises have been my saving grace for my upper hamstring pain and glute pain. I regularly did walking lunges, squats, deadlifts, and other various leg strengthening exercises at the gym, but these two exercises definitely target the glutes much more specifically.
It is often cited that the glute muscles are the weakest muscle group for many runners. I had an “ah-ha” moment was when I read the February issue of Runner’s World. The author of the article The Whole Body Fix spoke of hamstring pain she had been dealing with for six years and had tried everything under the sun: ART (active release therapy), Graston, and massages—everything I had too had tried. Eventually she was healed when she strengthened her glutes!
The more I learn about injuries, the more I become convinced that many injuries are caused from an imbalance or weakness is some muscle group. The area that causes pain for you might not be the weak spot, but instead a corresponding muscle group. It is amazing how much everything in the body is connected. For me my hamstring was strained and causing pain for me because my glute wasn’t strong enough to support the proper function of it when running.
I am very grateful that I no longer have my hamstring pain and know that I can’t slack on these exercises if I want to stay healthy.
What running-related injury have you dealt with and how did you heal it?