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4458 Views 6 Replies Latest reply: Jan 15, 2010 6:30 AM by JamesJohnsonLMT
EatnRun Amateur 11 posts since
Jan 4, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Jan 4, 2010 9:54 PM

Torn hamstring -- Dr. says not to run a marathon...ever?

In Sept 2008, I injured my hamstring while training for a marathon. Went to dr and physical therapy with the hope of being able to still run an Oct marathon (dr sounded hopeful) but it didn't heal that quick. Over the last year, I slowly built back up to being able to run without pain but it's still gives me problems with knee pain and a feeling of instability. Last week, I noticed that when I flexed the hamstring, there is a good sized lump of muscle about 5 inches above the knee and then a cavity or hollow looking space below the lump. My chiropractor looked at it today and said I must have partially torn my hamstring sometime in the past and suggested that I never try to run a marathon lest I make it worse. He said there was basically nothing that could be done--the hamstring will always be in a weakened state. I asked about massage and he said it might help short term but that nothing was going to help in the long run, so to speak. He said I could run maybe a half marathon but never to over do it so I wouldn't be able to run again. Has anyone had a similar tear and still run a pain-free marathon? If so, how did you do it?

  • aj01 Pro 143 posts since
    Jul 8, 2008

    Since noone else has replied yet, I will.  I'm no Dr. and even if I was, I don't know all the details of your case but if it was me and I had my heart set on completing a marathon, then I would probably try.  I would be patient as it may take years to prepare and at least partially restore your hamstring.  Also realize that it's possible that it would never happen but that doesn't mean I wouldn't try.  You may want to talk to a sports dr.  Worse case, is surgery and option?

  • rocdoc50 Legend 240 posts since
    Oct 4, 2007

    I'll take a shot at this question also.


    First off, it has to be devastating to hear those words "DON'T EVER RUN A MARATHON".  The thoughts that would be going through my mind would be, "you have GOT to be kidding me, right?"


    I know they say you should always listen to your doctor and the doctor is usually right, but I wonder sometimes if it is just a "safety blanket" statement that they make to avoid potential reprecussions later or is it due to them not having specific knowledge of treatment for that particular injury.  When I say this, I am just thinking that some doctors treat SPECIFIC injuries and may not have all the data on your particular situation.  I would do a little research to see if there are similar cases to yours out there and how they have been handled.  There may be a doctor who has a method which would allow you to repair your hamstring sufficiently enough to run a marathon.  Also, what did your actual medical doctor tell you about the injury?  A chiropractor (at least most of them) are not doctors of medicine so it is possible as one other posted stated that surgery could resolve your problem.


    Having said all of that, until you find information that says otherwise, it would be best to hold off on the marathon preps.

  • Haselsmasher Legend 538 posts since
    May 25, 2009

    I would get a 2nd.........or 3rd..........or 4th opinion.  I would get opinions from different types of doctors:  Sports Med.  Muscular specialists.  Ortho maybe?  I'd probably throw in a good PT into that mix.  I'd also do LOTS of research on your own on the internet.


    I've tried to convey the following before and I'm frequently disappointed in my ability to clearly communicate what is in my head:  When we get opinions or diagnoses from the medical professionals we see I think we have to listen to them in the spirit of both hearing what they have to say and being open to what they have to say and a very high degree of questioning and skepticism.  I see people who take a doctor's word as gospel and it drives me crazy.  I'm not saying you're doing this.  On multiple occasioins doctors have told me stuff that was flat out wrong.  One doctor was ready for me to go into surgery he was so sure of his diagnosis, but after 5 visits to a PT I was running pain free.  One doctor told me if my post tib tendonitis came back after a 3 week layoff my body was not structured to run and I had to stop for the rest of my life.  He (nor I - I had just started running) didn't know anything about good shoes.  I got some good running shoes and ran fine.  Actually, that specific episode happened 15 years ago and since then I've run thousands of miles and a half marathon.  Have you read Born To Run by Chris McDougall?  He had multiple running-knowledgeable experts say he couldn't run again because of all his plantar fasciitis issues.  But he researched and studied on his own and learned there might be a way to deal with it - and he did.  Now he is a barefooter, I believe.


    So the balancing act I'm suggesting here is just that - a balancing act.  I'm not saying we can treat ourselves.  They've been to medical school and we haven't.  They're professionals and we're not.  In my opinion, err on the side of questioning - and go see if you can find other data that either supports or refutes that recommendation.


    I wish I could commit the following to memory.  From The Lore of Running I've seen reported the following approximate quote:  "Never take as final word an opinion about running from a non-runner, even if that person's name has the word 'Doctor'."  (And in my case, the guy who was so sure of his diagnosis that was going to have me go into surgery - he was a runner.)


    Good luck.



    "Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."

    -- From the song FM by Steely Dan

  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,293 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009

    I'm sorry I forgot to answer this one earlier, but what you appear to be describing is an actual torn muscle, not just a micro-tear. Unless this thing has a mind of its own and is going to reach up there all by itself and re-attach... it ain't going nowhere, buddy. If you were a pro athlete, youda been on a gurney to the op room post haste.


    Are you by any chance an older athlete they are not concerned about, or do they think your insurance won't cover surgery? There is absolutely nothing you can do with it as-is without surgery, and no - you shouldn't run a marathon or anything else. That musta hurt like the dickens!

  • JamesJohnsonLMT Legend 1,293 posts since
    Aug 23, 2009

    You could probably get through it somehow if you ran it easy, but I wouldn't compete. Marathons gradually exhaust the leg muscles, increasing the load on what's left. You have fewer muscle fibers to rely on to begin with, and if the injured fibers had already torn, the odds increase against the remaining muscle.


    In the case of the knee, unbalanced tension on that side is probably responsible for the pain. No idea why it didn't hurt, but there could be a non-standard surgical option.

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