Sunday, March 16, 2008

Knowing When To Listen To Your Body Continued...

Sorry for the delay between posts. But I'm back posting and continuing on with what I promised. More about your injuires and what can be done to help you through them.

This week I'm talking about the Hip Flexor. I just went through a bout with mine so I thought I'd share a bit of my injury and then tell you more about it in general and ways to help yourself heal it and hopefully prevent it!

So three weeks ago I was running hills in Central Park (yes for those of you outside of NY there are rather steep hills in the Park). It was down pouring rain and so the terrain wasn't ideal but as a team we were there to train. As I came down for my last few sets of up and downs on the hill my back started to feel discomfort but it wasn't a terrible pain so I kept running until I got done I didn't realize how bad the pain had become. So I made my way back home and took it easy. The reaminder of the week I noticed I was feeling some discomfort in my hip area, but it wasn't impossible to manage so on Sunday I ran 16 miles. That's when I felt a pain. I was told by my coaches to take the rest of the week off from running as it sounded like a hip flexor strain and to do some stretches to help me with my hip. By the end of the week it felt better adn was able to put in a near 12 mile run pain free on Saturday.

So what happend? When I experienced my back pain, what happend was I started to compinsate in my running form and thus put extra strain on my hip, particularly the hip felxor. The hip flexors are a group of muscles that move the hip forward when running and walking. A great deal of stress is applied to this muscle group when sprinting and kicking.

So what is a hip flexor strain? A hip flexor strain is the result of an overly forceful contraction. This can occur during a sprint or a series of sprints. The strain can also be the result of overuse (kicking/ sprinting) and associated "micro traumas". A micro trauma can be considered a tiny imperceptable tear. These tiny tears accumulate over time and eventually result in a strain and pain. a 1st degree strain involves stretching (or very minor tearing) damage to the muscle or tendon. A 2nd degree strain is associated with partial tearing of the muscle or tendon. And, worst case scenario, a 3rd degree strain is a complete tear. Regarding injury progression, playing with any strain can easily lead to further damage and function loss. This is particularly true when the injury is related to overuse and has a gradual onset. Athletes often try to play through this, with no rehabilitation, and it results in a grade 1 strain becoming a grade 2.

Treatment: As always, ice bags over the painful area for 20-25 minutes after training is a good place to start. Time off from aggravating activities may also be necessary, but this depends on the severity of the injury and when rehabilitation has begun. Athletes with a grade 1 strain can usually continue to participate as tolerated, implementing ice and rehabilitation. Athletes with a grade 2 injury will require some time off and rehabilitation. Time missed can vary from a few days to a few weeks here. Grade 3 hip flexor injuries are rare and will probably be season ending.