Ok..so two days ago I began to stretch I felt an awful pain in my hamstring when I bent over to stretch my (nose to my knee). Anyway, I hadn't felt any pain prior to that, like when I'm walking, sitting, even on a short jog. How in the heck did this hamstring pain (feels really tight and almost like I pulled it. What do I do? I am doing the Iron Girl in Clearwater next week!
13.1 miles of peace and quiet
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Disney Princess 1/2 Marathon
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Iron Girl Clearwater 1/2 Marathon
Even Iron Girls get injured every now and then, bless your heart.
I've learned to love hamstring pain; I get it whenever I train too hard or sit on chairs that cut off circulation when I'm training normally. In your case, it could be a combination of those things, and the stretch was just past your tolerable limit, resulting in a little more damage than you already had.
The small micro-tears and ruptured muscle cells that accumulate in all athletic endeavors often result in a stiffening of the muscle in self-defense. This is to prevent you from using it as much, but the stretch pulls against this increased tension, and something has to give. The idea behind a productive stretch is to go as far as the tissue can go without further damage, but we often have the urge to stretch out tissue that is damaged the most, feels the stiffest, and will break the easiest when we stretch it. It's a normal inclination and nothing to be ashamed of. You may have to sandbag your race though, or sit it out entirely.
You can probably foam-roll the hammys to increase circulation and speed healing, in the hopes the damage is not major. Sometimes this works if it is normal wear and tear. The way I and others in my trade work, is to look for specific portions of your muscle that are in spasm. Some of these spots can be as small as the head of a pin, but they can radiate pain throughout your muscle just like pulling on one hair of your head can hurt. It only takes a little damage to mean a lot.
If these spots can be identified and treated individually, you may get better results than with a general foam rolling, which helps more with general soreness. We use a technique called effluerage to slide up the muscle with lubricant, basically mobilizing lymphatic flow and enhancing venous blood flow. That helps after a hard run, etc., but rarely corrects specific damage. Compressing the very spots in spasm firmly to slow circulation, then releasing to let the blood flow back in, has the effect of changing the way your brain responds to pain there (stiffening), and causes the mini-spasm (we call them trigger points) to relax. You've probably seen us doing it at races many times, and there will be a team at Iron Girl doing it this time, but you don't want to wait for race day.
If you can get somebody to work on it, great, but if time and money is an issue, you can work on it yourself as I describe. Just find the sore spots and knots in your hamstring and fix them. They'll still need to heal, but they won't heal very well until they are relaxed, or as we call it, released. Take care of that, and your body will take care of the rest. Meanwhile, go easy on it. Most of your training is in the bag anyway. Taper, and stop stretching tight muscle without relaxing it first.
I had a bad hamstring all the way to my last marathon, and worked on it while driving with one hand under my leg. The weight of my leg was enough pressure on my fingers to get the job done, and I had a great race the next day, a qualifier. My hamstring had been bothering me for months after lots of brutal summer speedwork. I'm not saying you will get the same results, and it takes a little practice when you don't do it for a living like I do, but if I can do it, you can too. If in doubt, get help.
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