Category: Hamstring Tear

How to Start Running After a Hiatus – 10 Tips

Running has taught me, perhaps more than anything else, that there’s no reason to fear starting lines…or new beginnings

Amby Burfoot

Return to Running – 1 Month In

As the prophetic rapper Eminem said – “Guess who’s back. Back again.”

Yup – me!

Here’s to less layers as the weather warms up!

6 month’s post of from right hamstring surgery and a little over 1 month back to the hard hitting streets of Wethersfield, I’m back (sort of)!

My “Return to Running” journey started with walk/run intervals and has slowly increased my time on feet to the sweet spot (as Coach James likes to say) of about 35 minutes. Based on past experience, i suspect that I will be staying in this time frame for the next several weeks – which is fine with me.

Rehabbing by way of cross training (have you seen my Peloton recently) have been consistent as I work to re-build the muscle mass I lost after surgery.

Since this is not my first at returning to a more consistent running regime, I thought it would be a good idea to share some things I have learned (and taken to heart) over the years.

So without further ado, I present…

10 Tips To Transition Back to Running

Your first run (and really the first couple of runs) you will not be fast and you will feel awkward. Don’t beat yourself up! Only after running for a solid month have I started to get my (slow) groove back. Remember the muscle memory is there you just have to build it back up again.

Also – when you first remember start running again – it’s all about time on feet – NOT speed. 

Ditch the watch if you have to and just focus on how you feel during the run.  You will have enough time in the future to be focusing on your Garmin.

I’m still working on breaking up with my Garmin

For the first couple of weeks – focus on walk/run intervals where the walk is longer than the run because it’s all about building your endurance back.

Continue to DO the little things that got you back in your running shoes in the first place.  That means setting a side time for those boring PT exercises, cross training and REST.

Speaking of rest – it’s not a bad thing.  Your body is adjusting to an increased load.  Listen to it and take rest days as needed.

You are going to feel soreness as you increase your activity – DON”T FREAK OUT.  Again – listen to your body, stretch, foam roll and rest as needed.

I have a love/hate relationship with this recovery tool

Ice packs are your friends.  Continue to use them, as they make a world of difference.

Continue to cross train and strength train.  You might not be able to hit the pavement, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot do other low impact cardio activities such as biking, the elliptical, or even walking.

And last (BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST) buy yourself a pair of new running shoes. This should a priority because why return to running in a pair of shoes that have probably seen better days. There is no worse feeling then getting re-injured from trying to eek out another mile out of a pair of over worn shoes. AND please, for the love of all things, do not buy them at Kohl’s or on-line – do yourself a favor and get fitted. 
New Shoe Day is the BEST day!

I am sure there will be more “Return to Running” tips as I continue to increase my time on feet, and possibly get a bit faster.

If I’ve missed any – please reach out to me. I’m always looking to hear from others who have gone through similar experiences like myself.


Running After An Injury Quotes. QuotesGram

The Past 30 Days & My Top 5 Post-Op Essentials

Hip Labrum Post op

As you are reading this I am officially 30 days post-op. After my hip labrum repair, after 30 days I was told by my surgeon that I could cease using crutches and was able to start a course of PT where I not only worked on not only ROM but strengthening my hip.

Hip Labrum Repair

Recovery from Proximal Hamstring Surgery is a bit different. As I cross this 30 day mark I am still living the #crutchlife. On the positive side – I do not have to wear my brace at home and have started to sit in a regular chair and therefore transitioning back to the work bunker. On the negative side – I still have to wear the hip brace at night with a bent knee and dealt with swollen legs from the lack of movement.

With the exception of doctor appointments and an exciting trip to CVS and Starbucks this past weekend, I pretty much have been sequestered to the house. Mark still is the lifeblood of the household, a true Rockstar. I don’t know how recovery would be going if I had to do this alone or with an un-supportive spouse. Mark’s been able to work from home, but has transitioned back to 1/2 days in the office.

This past Friday was the first day that I was actually home alone for the ENTIRE DAY. He did leave me breakfast but it was up to me to make lunch. I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself. Nothing fancy and it was easy enough to crutch my way back to the work bunker.

BUT it’s all about baby steps forward. It’s a sprint not a marathon, and I keep telling my self each morning when I wake up that I’m one day farther from my surgery and one day further in my recovery journey.

What’s Next On the Recovery Agenda

BUT -excitement abounds in the Ciccio household this week, however, as I get to start Physical Therapy on Monday! This means not only getting out of the house, but my surgeon wants my therapist to start weaning me off my crutches and brace! Unfortunately it does not mean strengthening until at least 8 weeks post-op. In all the reading I have done prior to my surgery, this is the standard protocol.

And in all honestly – I really need to work on just moving and massaging my right leg. My right leg has atrophied so any attempts at strengthening my hamstring would not be helpful.

To be honest I am excited and a bit nervous to start weaning off crutches at this point. I mean, I have not put any pressure on it in 30 days, so I know I am going to be pretty cautious for a while. As Mark said -I am going to have to re-learn to walk comfortably and will probably be tired as I start this new phase in my recovery.

BUT – I have followed my doctor’s instructions up until this point so now it’s time to start engaging those hamstring muscles and continue moving (literally) forward!

12 Things I Have Learned Thus Far

  • You will have to learn to rely on other people. This was (and still is) so hard for me. Your recovery depends a large part on not moving so that you can heal. Having a support system in place before surgery is imperative.
  • Remember recovery from hamstring surgery is long – it’s a marathon and not a sprint. DO NOT OVERDO IT! I cannot express this enough because remember – anything “extra” that “feels” good now MIGHT set you back more than you realize.
  • You won’t be hungry for the first couple of days BUT it’s important. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way after my last surgery, so Mark made sure I had food at all times.
  • Try and wean yourself off the narcotics as soon as you are able. Yes- you will be in pain/sore but I found that after the first couple of days I was able to wean myself off them, taking Tylenol as necessary. One caveat – if you are in pain – take the pain medication, that’s what it’s there fore but don’t use it as a crutch. You just had major surgery and it’s going to hurt!
  • There is no getting around it but sleeping will be uncomfortable. You just have to get used to it and learn to “love” sleeping on your back. I am a stomach sleeper so it has been quite a turn of events. Luckily I have eventually been able to lay on my side (with the brace still on) as long as I keep a pillow between my legs.
  • If you can – a hand held grabber is a game-changer. This really helped me because until you master the one-legged crane squat, picking up things you drop is hard.
  • Even with a brace, I highly recommend putting one or two pillows under your knee. This will ensure that it stays bent (thereby keeping your hamstring relaxed at all times) and helps with swelling.
  • Showering is a challenge – a hand held shower head was helpful as sitting was hard.
  • Related – showering everyday is probably not feasible because it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time. Invest in shower wipes (see below).
  • I’m not going to lie but using the toilet is also hard. I did start out using a raised toilet seat. This works for some, but for me it presented more problems. I learned through trial and error to “hover” and was eventually able to sit (not comfortably) “deadlegged” on the toilet.
  • Recovering from hamstring surgery will make you tired – naps are your friend!
  • And lastly – make sure you have some good books and movies to help you pass the time.

My Top 5 Post-Op Essentials

  • Extra Wide Adjustable Laptop Stand – I was lucky to be able to take 2 weeks off after my surgery. Unfortunately, when I returned to work, I was still unable to sit in a chair. This “desk” was a lifesaver!
  • Comfy Stretch Pants – Face it, you’re going to be lounging for the foreseeable future after surgery. They are stylish, stretchy enough to pull on and off (carefully) yourself, and will fit under the bulky brace. What more can you ask for.
  • Body Wipes – As mentioned above, it will initially be challenging to shower after hamstring surgery. These were great to help me feel (and be) fresh day in and day out.
  • Crutch Pads – Another little thing to make your life easier. You are going using crutches for a while, so why not make what limited mobility you have a bit easier.
  • An Elevated Toilet Seat – Although this did not work for me, I have seen many others rave about this product. If you can find out that fits to your toilet it can be a game changer.

And Two More (Just Because)

Recovering From A Proximal Hamstring Injury – Surgery Was The Easy Part

Promixal Hamstring Surgery – 1 Week Prior

In August I scheduled my surgery to repair my hamstring injury. I chose a date toward the end of September because 1) Mark had a pre-arranged golf trip in early September and 2) I wanted to enjoy as much time as I could outside before I was sequestered to my “recovery room”.

Being the Type A (and also wanting to be active in my recovery as much as I could be), I did a lot of internet searching on what to expect before, during and after hamstring surgery. I found a lot of good (but generic) information from the medical community (hospitals/orthopedics/surgical centers), I had a hard time finding any personal experiences on anyone who had recovered from proximal hamstring surgery.

I was lucky two have found two blogs which were a huge resource for me as the date of my surgery drew closer. Fueled and Focused, as well as this guide really helped me not only wrap my head around not only what to expect but also gave rough idea of how long it would be until I might be able to do X, Y or Z. I re-read blogs quite a lot and I have to say, up until this point, my recovery has been pretty similar.

Had my surgery not been scheduled during a Pandemic I would have spent my last week/weekend with friends and family BUT that was not the case. Instead, I had my brace fitting AND a COVID test. Then it was back home to self quarantine. Thankfully the test was negative or I would have been pissed.

I spent the weekend before deep cleaning the house, baking these, and making sure I had everything in my Recovery Room ready to go. I also purchased several items to make my post op life easier. Some of them were awesome (crutch pads for the win) and some were just a good idea in theory (tear away pants anyone??). I will write a separate post on these items soon.

Surgery Day

I was fortunate that I was Dr. Kuhn’s first surgery for the day BUT was not pleased that it would take place at 11:30am. SIGH! So that morning I did some puttering around the house until it was time to go.

In pre-COVID times, Mark would have been able to come into the surgery center and wait for me. Unfortunately, that was not the case. He dropped me off and was told that once I was “ready to go” (aka surgery was complete) he could swing back and collect me.

Pre-Op was pretty straight forward and what I remembered from my labrum repair 3 years ago. The only difference was more masks and hand washing. After I scrubbed my surgical area and they started an IV, things happened pretty fast.

Funny side story – when Mark dropped me off he asked of the brace box needed to come with me. I told him – no – what remained were “extra pieces”. Apparently I was wrong. The actual brace was actually in the box and Mark ended up taking it back home with him. After a mini melt down, I got a hold of Mark who rushed it back to the surgery center. In the meantime I walked down to the surgery room, where the last thing I remember is talking to the “team” about running.

Unlike my prior surgery, I did not have nerve block because of where the surgery was located (hello nerves) but they numbed it up good. The anesthesiologist also placed an anti-nausea patch behind my ear. The medication in it lasted 3 days and worked wonders. After my last surgery I had an adverse reaction, but luckily that was not the case this go around.

I woke up less then an hour later with the brace firmly attached and a slight cough/sore throat because I was intubated. Something about not eating for 14 hours made those post-op graham crackers and ginger ale delicious. Pretty soon, Mark picked me up, grabbed my prescriptions and a well-deserved Poke bowl and headed home.

I’m not sure how I did it but I made it upstairs where I have pretty much stayed thus far.

Hamstring Post Op – The 1st Two Weeks

For these first 2 weeks I have used my vacation time to take some time off. The first week I was in no condition to do anything, but last week I did do some work. I am glad I did – it will definitely keep my stress level in check. Mid day power naps have been glorious, especially as my sleep pattern has been inconsistent.

By the end of the first weekend, I weaned myself off the Oxycontin and now only take Tylenol as needed. I have had mostly soreness and discomfort at the incision area. I am not moving a lot (the brace definitely helps with that) and am very conscious of keeping my knee bent AT ALL TIMES. The one time that I did contract my hamstring (by accident) it hurt like hell.

The brace is defiantly doing it’s job of immobilizing me and needless to say it is cumbersome and uncomfortable. I cannot sit up straight in bed and sleeping has been a challenge as my knee has to remain bent. I am a huge stomach sleeper so its been a challenge to sleep on my back. The only times that I have felt comfortable taking it off is when I use my ice machine. My knee however is still in a bent position.

As for going to the bathroom – this might be a little TMI but the first week was a struggle. I was (and still am) numb in that area and could not (and honestly still cannot) sit on the toilet. I did try a raised toilet seat (FAIL) but at the end of the day just had to hover. It was only recently that I have been able to sit (with my right side being dead weight) somewhat. It’s also a pain because every time I go to the bathroom I have to take off the brace and then put it back on. Needless to say I am almost a pro at the one-legged Karate Kid crane.

The memory foam pads (linked above) for my crutches have been life savers as I think that I am going to be using them for the next 6 weeks.

As I mentioned I have pretty much stayed in the Recovery Room since my hamstring surgery. I kind of feel like Rapunzel. Luckily I can get in/out of the bed, maneuver to the bathroom when I want/need to, and should “make it work” working remotely. I cannot sit up (or in a chair for that matter) so it will be trial and error to get my Recovery Room turned into a comfortable work space.

Lastly – being pretty much immobile also means that I am highly (like 99.9% reliant) on Mark. He has been awesome, bringing me my meals as well as taking care of the house, working, and making sure Harley does not starve. It’s a big ask of him to do all this and he has (so far) had no complaints. I will keep you posted 😉

Tuesday – First Post Op Appointment

I’m pretty excited for Tuesday for two reasons. 1) I get to leave the house and go outside for the first time in 2 weeks! and 2) I have my first post op appointment!!!

To be honest I am not sure what to expect. I know that there might not be much that will change BUT I am hoping to maybe be able to start Physical Therapy (for stretching) and maybe he will change the position of my brace to give me a bit more “wiggle room” for sitting.

I will keep you posted!

Hamstring Surgery – Because There Are No Other Options Left

Plain and simple – I’m a gal that likes options.

Ask Mark. After being together from over 20 years, he can attest that something as simple as choosing a restaurant is hard. I usually want to try a new restaurant. He has certain “favorites”. This has led to some hungry/stressful decisions that have sometimes give us a meal we would rather forget.

Google led me to the following definition for CHOICE as I was creating this blog post –

Choice – an act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities.

It might be hard to believe but, choice has been a big part of my life this Summer. Not in terms of many of my life choices (PSA – people please wear your masks and practice social distancing) but in terms of running.

Since May the hamstring strain was a tear. For years I have had right hamstring problems (thanks Instagram memories for reminding me). I think, however, that the full damage was done during my 2nd Mckirdy Mile time trial in May.

McKirdy Mile #2

The Tear & Treatment

Thinking I was only dealing with a strain I continued to hobble through my daily 6 mile run. After the MRI confirmed the tear I stopped running because 1) I wanted to try and “heal thy hamstring” 2) There were no races and 3) It hurt too dang much.

The Tear

My orthopedic gave me several options – all of which I tried.

First was physical therapy but after my tear diagnosis I knew that I could do my PT exercises at home.  Going to PT would help but not soon after I left to drive home my hamstring would seize up – not fun.

Biking has kept me sane this Summer.

Second I had a cortisone shot injected via fluoroscopic directly into my hamstring – it did not hurt but it did not help either.  I knew that the cortisone shot was more palliative than curative, but after two weeks of no relief I knew that it did not work. Exercise during this time consisted of core work, PT, and daily bike rides (which have saved my sanity this summer).

Making sure everything is injected correctly.

I went back after 3 weeks and my orthopedic said that giving me another shot would not help, so I made the decision to have a PRP (Platelet Right Plasma) injection. My health insurance did not cover this injectcion BUT I had read positive results about treatment of athletes with high (proximal) hamstring tendon injuries. By injecting your own platelets into the hamstring, an inflammation response is elicited to start the healing process. I was told to not exercise for 3 weeks but at this point i was willing to try anything

Hitting the sweet spot

Three weeks of no exercise was tough (I did a lot of gentle walking) but again after 3 weeks not a shred of relief.

Back to the orthopedic at the end of the month I went. He took one look at me and pretty much knew that I had made no improve.

What’s Next – Hamstring Surgery

So dear readers I was left with 2 options – live with the tear or have hamstring surgery,. For me it was not even an option because at this point my injury has affected my activities of daily living. I would love to run again (really that is my ultimate goal) BUT not even being able to sit down for short periods of time without being in pain is no way to live. As Mark said- do you really want to go through the rest of your life feeling like this.

Definitely Not!

I DO feel that my body has failed me. I have done everything that others have done to heal and have not gotten the same result. How I feel now is how I felt in May. BUT as my husband aka running czar has told me time and time again – I had to AT LEAST try every option available to me. I can at least take comfort in that going into surgery.

So yes I am having hamstring surgery – specifically I am having proxmimal hamstring surgery repair on September 29th. The surgeon who performed the labral repair on my left hamstring 3 years earlier will be (hopefully) fixing me again.

Recovery and Beyond

After surgery I will be in a hip immobilizer for 4-6 w. (Please send your reading and TV suggestions). Within that ti me period I will hopefully be able to start physical therapy.

I have read up on recovery times for this type of surgery and it is pretty lengthy but luckily I don’t have anything planned for the foreseeable future. I also know that my surgeon is very cautious, which I know will only with a successful recovery.

So until September 29th I have been trying to remain active and enjoy what remains of the Summer.

Summer Fun!

Some days I feel great, but those are then ones where I am not sitting for long periods of time. I think to myself that I have “healed thy hamstring” only to quickly change my mind after sitting for any length of time.

I would say that I am cautiously optimistic that surgery will help (and I really really hope it does) BUT I have been so let down this Summer that I think at this point I am going to hope for the best and see what happens.

Onward we go—to surgery!

Oops I Did It Again (or Why 2020 Continues To Be a Giant Dumpster Fire)

“There is an uphill for every downhill, and a downhill for every uphill.”

Turkish Proverb

Life Lately

Is it me or does it feel like 2020 is roaring past us at lightening speed and other days it feels like it’s moving at the pace of a sloth.

Since my last blog post things “life” wise have been pretty stable. Most days I work remotely with my trusty co-worker, and *knock on wood* my ulcerative colitis seems to be under control. So much so that I FINALLY tapered off prednisone for the 4th time in a little over a year. Yeah me!

Don’t get me wrong, being quarantined has had its daily/weekly/monthly ups and down ({People- it’s not hard people wear a mask in public!) but the one thing that, until recently, has kept my stress at bay was running and training for a Fall marathon.

Running Toward a Fall Marathon

With a dearth of Spring races, McKirdy Trained put on an awesome (and free) McKirdy Mile race series. Mark even signed up! I loved our treks to Old Wethersfield to run like hell for 7ish minutes knowing at the end of the workout our reward would be a well-deserved fresh pressed juice at Comstock Farre.

If you will recall during my 2nd McKirdy Mile (recap here), I had to run my timed mile a 2nd time as I did not hit “start” hard enough on my Garmin the first time. My time was respectable, but what I did not mention was about 2/3-3/4 of the way through, I felt a sharp pain shoot up my right leg into my butt.

I finished the mile but once I stopped everything, and I mean everything, on the right side cramped up. I believe I told Mark that I think I stepped wrong and brushed it off. However, during my next quality workout the pain continued to the point where my legs would not just turn over.

It wasn’t due to a lack of fitness, and then I reminded myself that I had been dealing with a right hamstring strain off and on from around September of last year. I also knew that as I was tapering off Prednisone it’s anti-inflammatory capabilities were also wearing off, meaning if the strain had not fully resolved, my body was now screaming this information to me.

Running Toward An Answer

So (freaking out as runners do) I researched my injury, but I also made an appointment with Dr. Kuhn (my “hip guy”). At the appointment I cut to the chase and told him what I needed – a referral for PT. The thought was that I PT would provide me with some relief and I would be back on the roads in no time. My therapist, thought that the pain was coming from my back (sciatica to be specific) but after 2 weeks I was still not getting any long term relief. Meaning I would get relief while in my PT session, but soon after I left (sitting in the car) I would be almost back to square one.

In addition, while sitting, I began to feel a constant burning/soreness (and sometimes shooting pain) at the hamstring insertion point. When I attempted to run that soreness turned to pain which eventually (depending on how long I could handle it) would “run” down the back of my leg to my knee. I could only make it a mile or 2 before I would have to hobble home defeated.

He agreed that I needed an MRI.

I tried to “read” the MRI but it was impossible, so until my follow up with Dr. Kuhn I continued to google my symptoms and go down the Web MD rabbit hole (which I do not recommend for any sane person). Thanks to technology logged onto Jefferson Radiology’s online portal and read my results which were

Abnormal findings in the right common hamstring tendon origin, from mild to moderate tendinosis and probably component of partial tearing

Jefferson Radiology – June 5, 2020

Within 2 minutes of reading the report, the running czar (aka Mark) told me I had to “shut it down” until I saw the doctor

Side Lined (& Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy – PRP)

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had already self diagnosed myself so the MRI result was the icing on the “injury” cake for me. Dr. Kuhn confirmed the results and pin pointed my tear within moments of pulling up the images.

My tear, he indicated, was “in the spectrum between a strain and a full tear”. Great! My options were – do nothing (aka no more running); have a cortisone injection; undergo a Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy; or have surgery.

The cortisone injection is palliative in that it would “calm down” the inflamed area so that the body can start healing itself. PRP therapy has had some great results (yes I did my research). Basically the doctor takes a vial of your blood and spins it down separating the good (platelets) from the rest of the blood. Your platelets are then injected into the injured area and the hope is that the platelets break down and release growth factors to trigger your body’s healing process by helping the injured cells repair and renew. On the downside, I have to pay for this therapy out of pocket. The last, and most invasive option, is surgery. Recovery time is long and I would have to be on crutches AND an immobilizer for a considerable period of time.

I did undergo a cortisone injection but after 3 weeks of no relief I headed back to Dr.Kuhn. He agreed that if I did not feel any relief after 3 weeks, an additional injection would not be helpful. So, as I am really, really trying to avoid surgery, I decided to try PRP therapy.

Moving Forward…

As I write this blog post I have actually undergone my first PRP injection. I plan to document my progress since it was hard to find personal testimonies on how they fared.

So that’s it in a nutshell – I have not run in about 45 days and now that I have undergone my first PRP injection I have been told, with the exception of walking, there is to be NO EXERCISE for at least 3 weeks. UGH

BUT if PRP therapy it helps me heal my hamstring and therefore avoid surgery its a small price to pay.

Some well meaning people have told me that maybe I should find a new activity and that may be true but at this point I just want to sit down and run a couple of easy miles without any pain or discomfort.

Stay Tuned!