2 Days to Recover from a Hamstring Pull

The one biggest fear any athlete has is getting injured more specifically, getting injured before a major competition. Of course I wouldn't be sitting here writing this if hadn’t just happened to me. 

In my sport of Australian Rules Football, it’s not a matter of if you pull a hamstring it a matter of when.  The following article will describe my injury cycle from beginning to end and share a handle full of tips that helped manage the situation. 

It all started a blazing hot (this is important)  Wednesday afternoon I, was running a few errands for my business and actually getting my pre-competition massage; when everything started to go down the cramper.  To start off the calamity I had vehicle troubles, which in turned led to me being late for practice. When I finally got there,  I spent a decent amount of time warming up, and "getting into the flow" when it happened, I made lead out for an under kicked ball and I felt that telltale twinge of a pulled hamstring; my first thought was "I hope it’s not too bad"; unfortunately it was.  Once I realized this problem I mind started racing on how I was going to get well enough to play in just 2 days time.  I figured I was along shot at best and would be lucky to get 5 minutes out of the busted hamstring; but I was going to give it the old college try.

First things were first get home and put of ice on it.  (man, if ice isn't the best recovery tool out there I don't know what is.)

The next day it was off to my chiropractor's office to get some ultrasound and muscle stim.  I repeated the icing and treatment process for the next two days.

Things were starting to feel better but I was still very skeptical; but I wasn’t going to be denied. So I packed up my bags on Friday afternoon and got ready to hit the road. Thankfully I was able to borrow a muscle stim unit, and planned using it along with plenty of ice for frequent treatments throughout the weekend. 

Just how dedicated to this treatment regimen?

I was so dedicated that I even put the stim unit during the six hour drive to California; and then iced and used the stim unit again when got into our room at 11pm. 

All told over the 3 days prior to/during the competition; I used ice and some type of stim or ultra-sound treatment 8 times, this consumed approximately 4 hours of time during those 3 days.

Was it worth it?

On Saturday morning I step out on the field at 8:30 warm-up for our game, and after working through a few drills I was pretty skeptical of what kind of effort I would be provide.  However, I kept moving through the warm-up in hopes that it would "loosen up". Come game time I stepped into my position, intent upon playing and hoping it would be for the whole game.  Much to my surprise was able to.  I didn't have much sprint speed but I was able to run and cover ground for the whole game.  To make a long story short with a happy ending, my injury seemed to be getting better during course of the 3 game competitions.  By the 3rd game the injury was nearly a distance memory and was playing a nearly full capacity. 

By the time it was all said and done I had to consider this a successful weekend, based o the fact that: I was able to play in all three games without further injury and perform at a higher level as the competition went on.    

Here are few take home thoughts that might be valuable to any athlete attempting to deal with being injured and not having a lot of time to take action:

• Just because your down doesn't mean you are out.  I could have easily given up and just wrote off the competition but I made decision to pursue the best treatment available to me and see where it would take me.
 
• There’s a lot to you can accomplish if you are dedicated to the cause. Were 8 treatments in 3 days a pain the butt?  Yep.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely!
 
• I understand that not everyone has the same resources available that I had; however at a minimum everyone has access to ice and those little frozen water crystals played as great a role as any in my recovery.

Here's my laundry list of recovery tools:

1. ICE
2. Hi-volt/ultra-sound (only in chiropractic office)
3. Portable muscle stim unit
4. Neoprene sleeve (this was another lifesaver)
5.  BCAA's (branch chain amino acids) I had some and figured it couldn't hurt so I started to take a full dose every day. 

• Stay in the game. I could have easily gone out and push really hard in that first game and the blown my hamstring.  But I was smart enough to realize that if I played within my abilities I could help the team that game and live to fight another day.  I guess that is part of becoming a "mature athlete"

[Side bar:   I am nearly 100% positive the cause of my injury was a result of dehydration, incurred "running around" during my hectic day.  So all you athletes need to drink up, (water that is) especially during the summer months]

As is the case with a lot of injuries; they kind of sneak up on you when you least expect it. My case was no different I had been training hard and was in good condition; and one small oversight lead to injury.  I hope all the readers out there have an injury-free summer; however if you don't I just wanted to share few things that worked for me and to let you know that you can be down but it still your decision to be to be out.