Hamstring Rehab

This is not a political blog, so I won’t talk about the US election. Let’s just say that it got to me and the otherwise sub-optimal week was exacerbated by this.

I had to skip both jazz and ballet this week in order to give my hamstring time to recover. I played with the idea of going to class, but every single medical, physiotherapy and dance site told me to wait until there was no resting pain, so I waited. I already buggered up this injury once, I’d be an idiot to do it twice.

The pain is gone now and has been replaced by horrible tightness. This is not due to the hamstring but due to me skipping class. I have some sort of weird problem with my right leg where the calf, the abductors and, to some degree, the hamstrings are abnormally tight and become much more so if I become inactive. This provides me with the occasional pain in the sole of my right foot or in my Achilles tendon, which is easily relieved by stretching the calf and applying a massage or tennis ball to the arch of the foot and the abductors.

I have no idea where this problem originates. It might be because I had to wear a lower-leg cast twice or just because my legs are of slightly different lengths. It is possible that this tightness is what caused the hamstring strain in the first place. I’ll have to be more diligent about stretching and foam-rolling that leg. If I suddenly become rich in the next year, I might see if I can get some physiotherapy for it.

I didn’t go to the doctor with my strain yet, because as far as I can tell (which is admittedly not very far) there’s not much more my doctor can do. I doubt he’ll throw physical therapy prescriptions at me for an injury so mild. So I’ll try to get over it myself and get professional help if I fail. After the pain subsided, I started very gentle stretches (twice a day) and prone and standing hamstring curls without resistance (3×10 reps once a day), all in the pain-free range.

I had a brief scare when I started the curls, because my hamstrings felt so weak. «Oh noes!», I thought. «I must’ve torn some muscle fiber! Halp!» But then it occurred to me to try the exercise with my other leg and it turns out I just have really weak hamstrings. Who knew? Might wanna do those reps with both legs from now on.

I can even see a bit of progress already, but modern on Monday is still under a big question mark. Our choreography has a couple of steps that involve flinging your legs around in a controlled manner which might not be the best idea just yet. Maybe I’ll skip it just to be on the safe side.

I did feel awful about skipping class – I never skip class unless I’m sick as a dog. But I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year and it keeps me wonderfully busy making weird stuff up in my head and writing it down. I’m usually too lazy to start writing on my own, and I’d forgotten how much fun it was. Plus, on Thursday, I was feeling pretty ill and would’ve skipped ballet anyway. And to make me feel better about next Monday, stretching class has been cancelled and will likely be caught up at the end of the month, so the hamstring will only cost me two classes instead of four.

I do intend to be very conservative in stretching class even another week from now. I’d skip it entirely, but it does amazing things for my back and shoulders, which I cannot quite replicate at home, because I’m not that much of a masochist.

In case you’re curious, here are the sources where I pilfered my rehab routines from. None of them are dance-specific. Use at your own risk and consult a doctor first!

  • Detailed info on the injury and strengthening and stretching exercises: article on Sports Injury Clinic
  • Approximate rehab timeline by (and for) physiotherapists: article on Medscape
  • This guy starts rehab very early but he shows some nice exercises and just listen to his lovely Irish accent <3: YouTube video

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