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One Foot at a Time

by Melissa Brunner

I last ran January 14. Not that I'm keeping track. And not that my husband has noticed any moodiness on my part (wink!).

After two years of a nagging pain that had gotten progressively worse over the summer and into fall, I decided to get it checked. Why wait so long? Well, it was an odd thing where it never really bothered me when I ran or did activities. The pain came when I sat for any length of time, centered right on that area where your tush rests on the chair. How could that be anything major, right? Plus, it seemed an odd thing to try to describe!

To make a long story short, after more than a month of initial therapy, images were ordered and the MRI found a partial hamstring avulsion. Don't worry, I'd never heard of that either! In short, the tendons at the top of the hamstring started to pull away from the bone on which you sit. In the most severe cases, it's the result of a major incident, it totally pulls off and it requires surgical repair.

Fortunately, this is not the case with me. Since receiving the imaging news, I stopped running. The orthopedic specialists I saw initially agreed but referred me further for a more definite course of action. The good news is that most of my hamstring is still attached. The specialist and physical therapist I met last week explained my situation this way: the initial event I recall from more than two years ago involved tripping over a root during a run and coming to a sudden stop while the leg was extended, which is likely what damaged the hamstring. In the course of continuing activities, I unwittingly compensated for the damage and got my muscles all mixed up on what their jobs are until, finally, I irritated and inflamed the area so much, I took action. Basically, my hamstring is mad at me for making it do all the work the glutes are supposed, so, now, we have to try to make it happy!

The path involves some good old-fashioned work. I'm stuck on an exercise bike at no more than moderate intensity. I must avoid all the traditional extension-type stretches I'd always done and no lunges or kicking exercises, either (there goes my martial arts career!). While I may need to steer clear of another half marathon in the future, the PT did say he should get me back running eventually - and that's good enough for me!

In the grand scheme of things, I know my challenge is small. I can still walk and go about my daily routine without too much inconvenience. This little bump in the road makes me appreciate all I have that much more.

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