This past week I spoke to a few athletes who have “pulled” their hamstring s or groin. Athlete number 1 pulled his hamstring early in the summer and will not let it rest more than 2 weeks at a time before he attempts to train all-out and injures it again. The next athlete pulled his groin and has taken most of 6 months off, but has not tried any demanding change of direction to test the groin and see how it feels. The start of the football season is right around the corner and neither one is sure if their respective hamstring or groin can handle a full season since they have not figured out the problem that caused the injury to begin with.
We as a society only fix what hurts, we become fixated on the target injury and forget that the body works as a system. When an athlete has an injury should they only work on the injured body part in order to get better? No! The cause of injuries are not always related to the immediate source of pain, often the cause of the injury originated from somewhere else.
For example if you are experiencing low back pain or discomfort the cause might not be your low back at all, it could be caused by deficiencies with your glutes , hip asymmetrys, or hamstring weaknesses. The cause can be a number of things within the posterior chain. Treating the low back alone will not treat the deficiency since the weak link is not the low back per se but has become manifested in the low back. We need to assess the root cause of the injury and then figure out how to it.
Let’s discuss another example. An athlete had no clue why he has injured his hamstring. After performing an assessment the real reason is that a couple different areas of body were breaking down and not functioning properly. He is the classic example of limited mobility, lack of hip/core stability along with some asymmetry of Quad to Hamstring strength. These problems lead to the pulled muscle because the body is out of balance. To remedy the problem he would need to strengthen his hamstrings, work mobility into the hips, glutes and low back region (Classic posterior chain dysfunction). His stabilizing muscles around the hips and glutes were also weak so we designed a program to address that area.
In conclusion the average time for complete recovery of a hamstring pull is 4-6 weeks. It usually starts to feel better after 1-2 weeks with rest, but it is not ready for all-out competition or sprints work. You must give it time to heal and get stronger. We as a society need to do a better job of finding the root cause of why we hurt ourselves. It is not good enough simple to treat the direct reference of pain for the injury because the body works as a complete unit, one imbalance will travel through the chain and lead to issues elsewhere. So if we want to prevent more injuries, we need to figure out where the weak links are and focus our effort on addressing those to prevent injuries. If we want to be successful on the competition field then we need to look at the whole body and stop treating the human body as a series of independent parts.
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