I have not exactly been secretive about my hamstring pain over the last few months. In my recent Whats Next? Training Update post, I talked about how I am not setting any races for the near future until it is 100% healthy. I had to go back to square one, because the intensity of marathon training really did not allow it any time to properly heal, and the race itself made it very angry.
Since the marathon, I have been taking recovery very seriously. Some of my recovery products have been graciously provided to me by my sponsors, other things are expensive, and I pay for, but it is money well spent as it all adds up to a faster recovery time. Especially as hamstring injuries are VERY slow healing.
My recovery has involved the following:
- Active Release Therapy from Dr Mike Sullivan 1-2 times per week. If you are in the Lexington (KY) area, I would definitely recommend him, he is the absolute best…..no really, he is the one who teaches ART!
- Deep tissue massage once per week from Karen Keys. Karen works with the University of Kentucky Football Team and Track Team
- Religiously taking my Enduropacks, especially my L-Glutamine Recovery Tablets and Amino Acid Patches
- Using Primal Sport Mud twice a day with a heat pack
- Completing a thorough warmup before every run. This includes my Warm Up Drills, Core Exercises, and Leg Swings
- Starting off runs slowly, to allow my hamstring to warm up properly
- No strides or faster running
- Consuming a diet rich in nutrients that are known to assist with recovery (Read my 27 Foods to Reduce Inflammation)
- Keeping my hips as loose as possible to reduce the strain on my hamstring
This may seem like a long list, but I really want to get back to training, at 100%, not the 80% I was running at for most of my Chicago Marathon buildup. This means doing all the little things to reach that 100%.
The last point is the one I would like to focus on today. During the summer, when my hamstring issue first appeared. I was regularly doing yoga. Not at a class, but in the comfort of my own home. A slow, stretching focused routine. I noticed huge differences in how my hamstring felt after doing this routine, and I also noticed a difference in my runs. Women are especially susceptible to hip issues, and stretching those hips out not only prevents injuries, but helps you naturally stride out a little more without putting in any more effort (or aggravating a pesky hamstring).
These are the exercises I have found to be most effective. I hold each stretch for around 90 seconds, to really allow the muscle to let go. Make sure you continue to breath deeply the entire time. You should never stretch to the point of real pain, but it will probably be uncomfortable to start, but will ease up after around a minute.
Hurts so good! I am not a yoga instructor, nor am I qualified to tell you how to do these yoga poses, I have just found these have been very beneficial to my hips, and I always notice how much better they feel walking around after I finish the routine. If you would like any further explanation of any of these poses, please contact me, and I will be happy to help!
Have you ever had a hamstring injury? How long did it take to heal? What stretches do you enjoy doing?