My Bizarre Injury

Early in the morning of September 19th, I was doing some light stretching. For a few months, I had been doing light yoga maybe 3-5 times a week. I would go to YouTube and look for videos related to yoga and mobility that were around 10 minutes long. 10 minutes is not much, but I was seeing tremendous benefits, especially at a time when my weight lifting was ramping up again.

But then the oddest thing happened. About a second after coming up from a shallow standing toe-touch stretch, which was only held for a few seconds, I heard a loud squish as my left hamstring muscle snapped aggressively to the left.

It was such a bizarre experience that I stood there frozen for a while trying to understand what had happened. It is almost two months later and I still don’t know. I’ve asked several people in the fields of massage and personal training what happened and they all seem stumped. The stretch was light and shallow. Nothing even close to aggressive.

Shortly after the incident, I began to feel pain, but I powered through with my day. The pain got worse throughout the day. By the early afternoon, I could not stand up unassisted. The next day, the pain was reduced and it has continued to drop by a little bit each day.

When it happened, I was advised by all my health consultants (except one) to seek out a physical therapist. Of course, I didn’t, because I never seek out help until I’ve lost all hope. The one exception advised me to gradually start light stretching again, which I started a week ago. Pain levels are very low, but still there.

I can still walk 10,000 steps a day. I can even do light hack squats (100 pounds). But now I’m feeling knee pain in both knees, which is new for me. I suspect the right side is now overcompensating for the left, which is creating the knee issues.

Maybe one of my readers has some wisdom for me? What happened to me? Should I see a physical therapist or continue with the light stretching + time protocol?

question

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MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.

14 thoughts on “My Bizarre Injury”

  1. “I heard a loud squish as my left hamstring muscle snapped aggressively to the left.”

    I cannot visualize what you are describing. Can you show us in pictures? How can a hamstring muscle snap to the left? Was it like a Charlie-horse in the left side of the muscle?

  2. @Tim – Good idea. I just did my best and uploaded an image to the post along with an arrow.

    I have no idea how this could happen. It did move from one side to the other and it was loud enough that one could hear it from across the room.

  3. @MAS
    No idea. Sorry about the (minor?) injury. Interesting that your general approach to fitness is to first minimize risk, and then some minor stretching results in an injury. Just shows the complexity of the human body.

  4. That helps me visualize, but wow, how strange! I’m sure you Googled ‘Spontaneous hamstring rupture’ as I just did, I found this, possible? Hamstring avulsiuon: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2579471/

    When I was in the Air Force, they gave us high-dose ciprofloxacin and many people developed spontaneous tendon ruptures, mostly of the achilles tendon. Taken any antibiotics lately? https://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/news/20080708/fda-warning-cipro-may-rupture-tendons

  5. I’m not a medical professional of any kind, but I am the mother of a professional ballerina. Your right side pain is almost certainly due to compensation for the left injury. If you do nothing to address the imbalance, the condition may worsen or shift to a new set of muscles (as already seems to be the case based on your post).

    My advice is to go to the therapist to learn what actually happened and which muscles were/are involved. There may be a simple set up exercises that will correct the issue and prevent it from happening in the first place. Based on my (observed) experience with my daughter, the hamstring might not be the genesis of the problem, it may be just the first link in the muscular/tendon/ligament chain that failed.

    My daughter has had hip injuries that actually stemmed from weak muscles in her foot. A good therapist will understand how it’s all connected, and address not only the area in pain, but identify the weakness that initiated the sequence.

  6. @Jim – Yes, that observation is not lost on me. My interest in yoga was a response to what I began to see as a problem with just lifting. Strength without diverse movement would create imbalances. Often we see the opposite, where the active person avoids lifting weights.

    @Tim – No antibiotics, but you did find a good lead, which I’m reading up on now. Thanks.

    @LWC – You convinced me to seek out help. When I did my knee rehab over a year ago, it was the knee stability + specific exercises that worked. Rest didn’t work. Thank you.

  7. Hi Michael! Have you taken at look at Somatics? They are movements designed to lengthen muscles via relaxation. Martha Peterson has good ones on YouTube. The other modality that might help is Egoscue, who also has a lot on YouTube. His movements are excellent for aligning the “chain” of muscles/ligaments/etc. throughout the body. Just my 2 cents!

  8. @Kathy – Great tip. I found a Somatic Hamstring video and quickly discovered the hamstring on my good leg is actually much tighter than the injured one.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehr-smlV-Vs

    I’ll be performing this regularly.

    @All – I have a medical appointment on Monday. I expect to see a PT shortly afterward.

  9. Hi Michael! I saw your note about getting physical therapy. Since you live in Seattle, I would recommend that you seek out your local Egoscue Clinic. Pete Egoscue’s method goes beyond what the typical physical therapist is trained to do, because they focus on maintaining balance throughout the body (thus preventing recurrence of injury). I have a dear friend who was able to avoid back surgery by attending the clinic (she lives near Atlanta). Best wishes in whatever you choose to do!

  10. @Kathy – I have been using Egoscue movements on a regular basis now since 2002 or 2003. I’ve read all his books and had the DVDs. I’m a fan. I’ve mentioned him in a few posts on this blog.

  11. Have you seen Lyle McDonald’s book Optimal Nutrition for Injury Recovery publish in July 2017 when he was recovering from an injury? May be worth a look.

  12. If this is still bothering you I would get an MRI ASAP.

    Very often, when muscles or connective tissues tear, the action that seems to have caused the injury is merely the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    A good example would be Dorian Yates’s triceps tendon rupture in 1997: https://youtu.be/CFHTCEs7Ut4

    Of course, Yates had been experiencing triceps tendon pain and inflammation for some time, so in retrospect it was clear to him that his triceps tendon was in a weakened state when he tore it. If your injury was truly “out of the blue”–my condolences; my only completely nonhelpful observation is that part and parcel of growing older is an increased incidence of injuries due to seemingly innocuous antecedents. Oh–and those injuries last longer too.

    Happy aging 😉

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