Self-Treating My Injury on a Budget (a.k.a. You Tube is my physical therapist)

I had a blue Monday yesterday-- the kind of day where you just want to sleep and eat. I felt sad, blah, and had no energy. I don't know when my body started requiring TWO rest days after a semi-longish run on Saturday (7 miles, 5 at tempo pace of 9:58), but it seems I'm there. (It's 40, I tell you!) My left leg hurt on both Sunday and Monday after Saturday's run and I was devoid of energy. I'm eating more carbs than I was---some whole grain bread, oatmeal or oat bran, rice crackers, occasional white potatoes--but still would classify myself as low to moderate carb compared to the SAD (standard American diet). The Paleo folks would say I'm struggling to recover from my longer runs because of the grains in my diet most likely. I would respond that I tried no grains and for me it equalled no energy.

I think I have finally figured out why my left leg hurts. On the Crossfit Mobility Workout of the Day video the other day, the coach mentioned having a high hamstring strain and then went on to describe it and show an exercise to stretch the hamstring pre-workout to prevent said injury.
It sounded exactly like my injury. After consulting several Internet docs, I have concluded it is not my piriformis at all, but my hamstring. I have either a hamstring strain or a neural hamstring. It spasms and aches often: during runs, after runs, when I'm sitting in my car, when I'm sitting at the computer working. So what's a runner on a budget to do? Get on You Tube for some physical therapy advice, of course!

Running is my therapy, and now You Tube is my physical therapist! I'm cheap that way.

I actually searched "hamstring strain stretches" or something like that. This very nice lady who appears to be a physical therapist (or pseudo-physical therapist?) posted two stretches for the hamstring. I liked how she told me to, "Stretch into the pain, then out of the pain." They were somewhat ballistic stretches---not really bouncing, but just held for a second or two and released, then repeated. I've been doing them plus the Crossfit guy's stretch for about 3 days now. I have also tried massage (my husband does this for free, but he's not really a masseuse) and a product like Icy Hot. I have used my big pink foam roller. (I have The Stick, but I haven't tried it yet.) So far...... I can't really see a difference. That's what I get for self-treating an injury on a budget!

Sunday was the one-month mark of the injury. Maybe that is why I was blue on Monday. And no, I haven't actually gone to a real doctor. I hesitate to go to a doc and then they order an MRI and 4 weeks of physical therapy..... I wind up paying a bunch out of pocket because I have crappy insurance. So, I'm going to stick to self-treating and You Tube physical therapy. I mean, it's only running. Well, and sitting.

One thing I learned at various websites is that running through this is ok as long as it's not too painful. It helps scar tissue not to build up and decrease the range of motion permanently. Stretching is good except when it's really hurting--then stretching just makes it mad. Even some squats and light straight-leg deadlifts are good for strengthening it. I miss Crossfit, but it's so hard core, I can't go back to the box (the nifty slang name for a Crossfit gym) just yet.

I wonder if I should just take like a month off from running and exercising? Nah. I think this is just one of those minor injuries you run through. Plus, I'm committed to long runs each Saturday as I train 9 folks for the Country Music Half Marathon and Tom King Classic Half Marathon who have already paid the YMCA a bunch of money for me to be their coach. And there's the little matter of the Thursday morning class Strength and Conditioning for Runners that I teach at the Y, too. Rest really isn't an option.

Thanks for continuing to read! Here is a recipe for HOMEMADE PROTEIN BARS that was inspired by a local nutrition trainer in my town named Nicole Spitzack. I've modified a few things from her original recipe, but I do owe her lots of credit.

1 jar almond butter (I used Emerald brand and mixed half crunchy and half creamy)
1 cup chocolate protein powder (good with Muscle Milk chocolate)
1 cup quick oats (Just plain Quaker oats)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs. almonds (sliced works better than slivers)
1 tsp ground flax seed (optional)
1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil

Mix all that together. Smoosh (the technical term) into a small casserole dish. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to one week. They are what my husband calls "healthy good." Don't expect brownies or anything!


Kirstie said…
I've been done that same road before. Debating on whether or not to see a doc. I've always gave in and went "just incase". I've done the whole PT thing twice now. My reccomendation is to see a sports medicine doctor (skip your regular doctor unless they are a runner as well) and do one session of PT. I find it ridiculous to pay to do PT at a clinic at $25 a pop when I can do it at home after learning everything the first session. Here's hoping you heal quickly.
Faith Ann said…
Ha! I love that term "healthy good" it definitely applies to a number of healthy baked goods lol.

I am an internet diagnoser also. If my injury/pain sounds *exactly* like someone else's, why should *I* go to the doctor too?

Good luck with the You Tube PT!