I also happen to find it extremely interesting to understand how the muscles and tendons work, what can go wrong, and how to fix it.
When I started Tread a year ago, I tended to use speed to increase my heart rate into the proper zones. As my cardiovascular fitness improved, which it did quickly, I had to walk faster and faster to get my heart rate up. This caused a pain in my right hamstring, that stuck with me for about eight months. I was using ice and heat, stretching, compression, the tennis ball, foam roller, rum and massage. But it wasn't getting better.
A friend of mine suggested her Sport Medicine physician, Dr. Dupore, at the Spine, Sport and Joint Center. I went in and he evaluated my hamstring strength by having me lay face down on the table, with my knee bent, and pressing against my heel. Something wasn't firing properly on the right side, causing weakness and pain.
He asked about my strength training and I told him what my workout consisted of. He taught me how to do a full range of motion squat properly, and assigned me 50 of them a day plus 75 standing hamstring curls with an ankle weight. OK, this was new. Normally, I would get either the prescription pad or sent off to physical therapy.
This doc was trusting me to do my corrective exercises, and then to come back two weeks later to reevaluate. As hard as it was to make myself do them (boring!), I did my exercises every day for two weeks. I even traveled during that two weeks and still did them. When I returned, the right hamstring was markedly improved! Corrective exercise was working.
I kept doing the exercises, and I also changed the way I got my heart rate up in Tread. I now set the speed to my warm up pace and keep it there. I use the incline to get my heart rate up into the zones, and wow is it a tough workout. I always end with that last climb at the top %. It's sweaty bliss, and it doesn't hurt my hamstring.
I tell you this because not only did I learn a fantastic amount from this injury, but I tried several things before I found what worked. It was a lot of trial and error. Every time I am injured, I have to find a way to stay positive while I search for clues that lead me to the answer. It's not easy! Being in pain is no fun, and going from place to place is frustrating and expensive. Trust me, I understand completely.
But what's the alternative?
I've learned that these things get worse when ignored. I know I bug you sometimes, but I am just trying to help you stay on it, so it doesn't become chronic. Have you tried the tennis ball? Did you get a massage? Have you tried acupuncture? Active release therapy? Muscle activation technique? Corrective exercise?
Injuries are frustrating, because there is no single answer. There is a path to healing that's right for you, that may not work for someone else.
I often say, you have to put on your sleuth cap and get to work investigating the problem. Not to become obsessed with it, but there are answers out there. Many of these issues are common problems with aging, and are known as predictable patterns of injury.
I am an eternal optimist. I believe the body wants to heal and we just have to keep it strong and in balance and it will. I know its a lot. Strength training, cardio, stretching, massage. It can feel like a full time job. But I tell ya, after being in pain for an extended period of time, I'm committed to doing whatever it takes to stay out of that mess.
Every now and then, someone at the studio will be lamenting about this pain or that, and someone else will say, "Oh, you just wait!" If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say that. But I find it discouraging. It sounds like a dire warning about what's to come. That's not how I think about fitness. Or my body.
I am in my fifties. I know I'm the youngster around here, but my kidneys stopped working right. I've had sciatica that lasted three years. I had knee surgery for a torn meniscus. A herniated disk in my neck. SI joint dysfunction all over the place. And foot pain galore. That's just my body.
I've found there's more. Every year that I age, yes, the aches and pains talk a little louder. The handful of meds I take gets a little bigger. But life gets so much better! I love my life more and more, every year that passes. I can't explain it, I just know that things are getting better, not worse. That love is sweeter. Adventure is more meaningful. Time is precious.
So let's change this, please, to radical encouragement to one another. Reminding each other that the best is yet to come. That these are just aches and pains, and they may slow us down but they will never stop us. When we hear someone complaining about their aches and pains, needing encouragement, if we say, "You just wait!", make sure to add, "You're not going to believe how good life gets. How magical and wonderful it gets. How full of adventure and hope and peace and joy and love and miracles. It's incredible...you just wait."