Monday, October 26, 2015

Off season, Injuries and Crowie's Ball

Ah the off season...
It's been 2 and a half months since my Ironman 70.3 finish at Steelhead but it feels like years ago.  My MBA classes started back up, Ben and I did a road trip through northern MI and WI and a lot of cool things have been happening at work as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Holland Center.  With all this activity, you'd think I'd be more than pre-occupied.  However, my free time often wanders to researching races for 2016 and planning trips around those races.  The tri tan lines have faded, a little weight gain has set in and yep, I have a slight case of the off-season blues.

The Injury...
I had been struggling with my right hamstring pretty much all summer, but I muscled through to be able to finish my A race.  Immediately after, I decided I'd take 2 weeks off from running to let things come back to normal.  Things didn't come back to normal, though. It felt like it got worse.  Sitting for long periods of time was really uncomfortable and I switched to a standing desk at work to see if that would help.  Running was nearly impossible.  My right leg would begin to drag after about 15 minutes because it hurt so bad to drive me knees forward.  At the end of August, I saw a PT who diagnosed me with hamstring tendonosis. 

Hamstring tendonosis is an advanced tendonitis in the high part of the hamstring (near the insertion point at the glute).  Essentially, the hamstring muscle fibers begin to break down due to weakness (from lack of strength training - I never train my legs) and not being able to heal (overuse in training). After obsessively researching it on the internet, I learned that this particular injury takes a long time to long as 3-6 months.  The PT gave me a rehab exercise regimen that he said "will require a lot of patience and consistency."  That does not sound like my idea of fun.

The Recovery
The regimen requires me to do 12 sets of 12 hamstring curls 5 days a week for 12 weeks.  In my case, the issue is exacerbated by the way my pelvis is tilted so I have to do a prep exercise to re-set my pelvis alignment before I start do the strengthening exercises. In addition, I have added upper body training at least twice a week and supplemental lower body (quads and glutes) twice week.  My cardio has really only been swimming which is not nearly as consistent as it should be.  I am finishing up week 8 of 12 and just within the past week or so have I noticed an actual improvement.  Last week the PT suggested I try to run a little bit and see how things are progressing.  I've only done about 2 miles at a time and so far, so good.  It's still a nagging pain but not 100% debilitating like it was 8 weeks ago.I have also started doing spin and indoor riding again.  I have been super consistent with my rehab exercises so hopefully I can fix this. I'm also seeing a chiropractor once a week to re-set my alignment and massage about every 10 days to 2 weeks. It's taking forever, but I'm feeling optimistic.

If anyone has had any experience with high hamstring strains, sprains or tendonosis, I'd love to hear suggestions or rehab/treatment that worked for you. 

"Crowie's Balls"
One other suggestion the PT has made was to increase core strength so I've been incorporating core strength training in between each of my hamstring curl sets.  When I do both abs and hamstring, it takes almost 30 minutes.  Because planks and crunches get boring, I started researching some alternatives and came across this gem.  The amazing triathlete superstar Craig "Crowie" Alexander has this fantastic series of core exercises that I have been using.  He affectionately refers to some of these exercises as "crowie's balls."  Behold...Crowie's Balls below...