Saturday, January 19, 2013

Injury really sucks

Life has been difficult and pretty dark these past few weeks. Every day I've been seeing my goals for this year slipping away and it got to the point I was struggling to find motivation to do anything. I felt really, really lost. It was made harder by the fact that so many of my friends are athletes which meant it was very hard to avoid talk of training and racing.

Thank you to everyone who has sent messages or posted comments on my blog. It really is appreciated. I know I haven't been updating this blog very regularly but I hope something on here may help someone else suffering High Hamstring Tendinopathy. I've had messages from a few people who, like me, are frustrated and desperately searching for an answer.

I had more than two weeks off work over the Christmas-New Year break and usually this is my absolute favourite time of the year.  Therefore, it sucked to find that some days I'd wake up and couldn't be bothered dragging myself out of bed because I felt I was going to achieve nothing that day. 'FML' became a common phrase. On Christmas morning I thought, bugger it, and went for a run. It was probably too early in my recovery but mentally I really, really needed it. I then had to put up with sore calves for the next couple of days because my body was out of shape!

There have been ups and downs I guess. Or, on second thoughts, maybe not many ups - I won't lie to you - I've been feeling pretty shit. I have continued riding and swimming as well as my rehab work, physio and massage with Michael from Complete Body Dynamics (who has been really wonderful and has been looking for different ways of treating the injury). I've been able to do some short, slow runs (Brent approved). I've tried to tell myself that complaining or getting depressed isn't going to make one ounce of difference so I may as well just get on with what I can do rather than constantly thinking about what I can't do.

I had my first appointment with Dr Donald Kuah at Sydney Sports Medicine Centre in early January. He is one of those doctors that fills you with complete confidence and after only a few minutes with him I felt I was in good hands - he was really thorough and honest.

Dr Kuah basically backed up what my physio, Brent Kirkbride (also at SSMC) had told me - 2013 is pretty much buggered in terms of competing at a very high level. Hearing this was like receiving a punch in the stomach. But what do you do, huh? Crying won't change it. Yelling and screaming won't fix it. So after some discussion about options Dr Kuah booked me in for Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections in the first week of February.

I had an MRI on Wednesday and I go back to see Brent next week.

But in recent days, things have been looking up. I have noticed definite improvement and, although I am feeling incredibly out of shape, my ability to run is getting better. At this stage I still haven't attempted pushing any sort of pace but I am able to run pain free a lot of the time. Slow, yes, but pain free. It's a start.

It may be a coincidence, but I am putting this improvement down to a strength/stability exercise I've added in. Instead of trying to describe it I thought it'd be easier to find a photo online (source: Body and Soul):
This is pretty much it (but I think the woman in this picture is letting her butt drop a bit). I lift one leg at a time and I concentrate on using my hamstring and my glutes and keeping my abs switched on. I've really started to think this is a magical exercise. 

I know this is only early stages - Brent and Dr Kuah both told me I could easily get back to being a recreational runner. It's getting back to being a competitive runner that will put the tendon under stress, so I really have to make sure it's repaired before I start to push things. Slowly, slowly - I keep reminding myself that after making it this far I don't want to rush things and send myself back to square one again. 

Having said this, I haven't given up on achieving a strong marathon this year. My plans have obviously changed (I was originally aiming to go sub 2:50 in Canberra in April, then improve from there) and I am now hoping to be in top form for Melbourne Marathon in October. It seems so far away, but it's better than nothing, right? 

Now I feel I've come out of the dark cave I disappeared into for a while, I'll be keeping this blog updated more regularly. I'm really hoping to fill it with a lot of positive news as things progress. 


  1. Hello - a quick question - is this exercise the one you referenced as "the hamstring bridge" exercise that you use to test whether you can run?

    1. Hi, to do the hamstring bridge I lay on my back and put my feet up on a bench/chair/step etc. then lift my butt off the ground using one leg only (so you form a bridge shape). Have a look at this link:
      It's the same position but you only use one leg to push up on instead of two.
      Hope that helps.

    2. Many thanks - very helpful. Ortho thinks I have hamstring tendonitis, physical therapist thinks it's still nerve. An MRI will hopefully shed light.

  2. I am a recreational cyclist. Last May I managed to score myself a case of high hamstring tendonopathy trying to catch up to a peloton (the first time I had ridden with them). There was also a small muscle tear which was really a red herring as far as my long term recovery is concerned.I have also seen Dr Kuah and he has booked me in for PRP in November.

    How is your progress with PRP and physio? I'm going to have to stay off the bike and running for months, I think. So it's off to the pool even though I suck at swimming, just to keep my heart rate up.

    I do hope you're going well. This is a total shit of an injury.



    1. Hi Michael,
      I'm really pleased to be able to report I've conquered HHT - after nine long months of treatment and rehab. I've run two PBs in the last month and ran 2:49 in Melbourne Marathon on Sunday so stick with the all the exercises and treatment - I'm proof it works if you do it properly.
      I really think the PRP was a main key to my recovery, as well as doing everything Dr Kuah and my physio (Brent Kirkbride) told me to - which basically meant not training when it was flaring up and doing lots and lots of strength and stability work. I have friends who have treated it other ways (no PRP and not as much rest) and they're still injured.
      Swimming was great for me and I was also told I could use and eliptical trainer too. I cycled at a relatively low intensity (but only on my home trainer and not after having PRP - you're not supposed to do anything hamstring-related after PRP so I swum with a pool buoy) and it didn't seem to cause problems - it was the running that upset it. Hopefully you'll find the bike will be OK too - basically I was told I could do anything (within reason) as long as I didn't get pain while doing it. One thing my coach told me was to alternate hard sessions in the pool (to get my heart rate up) with long sessions to try and keep my fitness from hitting rock bottom.
      I'm not going to lie - it was bloody awful going through it and not feeling like I was getting anywhere. I had a few setbacks and when I was finally given the all clear to start training I felt like an unfit old lady. The really good thing is, all the strengthening I had to do to get over HHT has made me a stronger, better athlete.
      Good luck - stick with it even if it feels like you're not getting anywhere at times. Dr Kuah and Brent Kirkbride know this injury inside out so they're good people to work with.
      Oh, another thing I found useful was massage - my therapist did ART and I think it helped.
      If you've got any other questions you're always welcome to drop me an email: