Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy: Michelle’s Road to Recovery

Michelle’s Running Background

Michelle had been a dedicated runner for about ten years, gradually increasing her distances from 10K to half marathons and ultimately setting her sights on a full marathon. She regularly participated in events such as the City to Surf, Mother’s Day Classic, and the Melbourne Marathon. She was pushing herself to the limit, running through pain, and refusing to let anything hinder her running goals. Unfortunately, this determination eventually led her to a breaking point with proximal hamstring tendinopathy.

Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy Symptoms

Michelle noticed that something was amiss when her running performance began to decline. Even in shorter races, she struggled with her speed, and this was accompanied by pain. The turning point came during the Berlin Half Marathon when she experienced her slowest time ever, indicating that there was something wrong. However, the exact cause of her symptoms was not immediately clear

Initially, Michelle believed her pain was related to her groin strain, but it wasn’t until early the following year that she received a definitive diagnosis of proximal hamstring tendinopathy. MRI scans showed inflammation in her tendon, but no other significant pathology. This clarity allowed her to embark on the path to recovery.

Early Stages of Physiotherapy

The initial phase of Michelle’s rehabilitation was a slow and cautious approach, typical of hamstring tendinopathy management. She started with bridging exercises to reduce the load on her hamstrings and gradually decreased her running. As her condition worsened, she stopped running altogether for a period, focusing on strengthening exercises like bridges, double bridges, and single bridges. This sedentary phase lasted for about four months, during which she could only walk as a form of exercise. She also incorporated Pilates into her routine to strengthen her hamstring and glute area.

Addressing the Fear and Beliefs

One significant challenge Michelle faced during her recovery was the fear of worsening her condition. She was apprehensive about stretching her tendons or overloading them, which impeded her progress. Overcoming this fear was crucial, as it’s essential to load the tendon properly during the rehabilitation process. With the guidance of her physiotherapist, she learned that some level of pain (around two or three on a scale of ten) during exercises was acceptable, as long as it didn’t worsen after the activity.

The frustration that came with being unable to run took a toll on Michelle. Running had been her escape, her passion, and a source of solace, especially during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the added responsibilities of homeschooling her three children, the inability to run made life more challenging. As a result, she turned to walking as the only relief, but it wasn’t the same. Michelle’s lifestyle also changed as she started to put on weight due to her reduced activity levels, affecting her metabolism and overall well-being.

The frustration and lifestyle changes Michelle experienced can trigger a vicious cycle, leading to further frustration and hindering recovery. Runners who can’t engage in their regular physical activities often find it challenging to cope with the shift in identity from a fit and healthy runner to a more sedentary lifestyle. This, in turn, can negatively affect their overall well-being.

Road to PHT Recovery

The turning point in Michelle’s recovery came when she began to introduce more loading exercises. These exercises provided her with a boost in confidence, as they allowed her to realize that she could perform them without significant pain. The exercises included kettlebell lifts, squats, and other strength-building routines. These activities helped her regain her strength and rebuild her self-assurance.

As she slowly reintroduced running, Michelle kept a record of her pain levels during and after each run. Initially, there was tightness in her hamstrings, but this gradually improved over time. The key was to interpret these signals correctly and not let fear hinder her progress. Slow and controlled loading, along with a focus on tolerable pain levels, were crucial components of her recovery.

Michelle faced limitations in daily activities, such as sitting for extended periods, and had to modify her exercise routine to accommodate the tendinopathy. She gradually reintroduced activities, following a structured rehabilitation program designed to increase her running capacity while avoiding exacerbating symptoms.

Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy Lessons Learned

Her journey underscores the importance of listening to one’s body and seeking early intervention. She cautions against ignoring persistent pain and emphasizes the need for a balanced approach to rehab, highlighting the significance of gradual loading rather than complete rest.

Progress & Looking Ahead

Through consistent effort and adherence to a tailored rehab plan, Michelle has made significant strides. Her recent running routine includes multiple sessions per week, gradually increasing both duration and intensity. Despite residual awareness during runs, she remains optimistic about her recovery.

Key Takeaways for Tendinopathy Sufferers

Reflecting on Michelle’s journey, several crucial insights emerge:

  1. Early Intervention Matters: Addressing symptoms promptly can prevent exacerbation.
  2. Mindful Loading & Rehabilitation: Gradual reintroduction of activities aids recovery.
  3. Emotional Impact & Support: Acknowledging the emotional toll of chronic conditions and seeking support is vital for a holistic recovery.
  4. Patience & Consistency: Recognizing progress, no matter how gradual, is crucial in the recovery journey.

Final Thoughts

Michelle’s story serves as a testament to the power of persistence, proper rehabilitation, and addressing beliefs and fears in the recovery process. Proximal hamstring tendinopathy may be challenging, but with the right guidance and determination, runners like Michelle can overcome it and return to their passion stronger than ever.

Michelle’s story showcases the complexities of dealing with proximal hamstring tendinopathy and the importance of a comprehensive rehabilitation approach. Her experience also emphasizes the need for tailored support and ongoing guidance throughout the recovery process.

For those navigating similar challenges, seeking professional guidance, adopting a patient-centered approach, and staying committed to a structured rehab plan are essential.

Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy Resources:

Other Success Stories: