Hi all! At a loss here so I figured I'd try posting to bunch of better athletes than me
I've always been about as flexible as a pencil but its been manageable - I've done triathlons, half marathons, extensive hiking. However, over the last 2 months (coinciding with starting primal) I have had such lower back, piriformis, hamstring tightness that exercising has become unenjoyable because of the pain. Nothing has really changed workout wise - I play roller derby and run. Now I am unable to do endurance skates because the muscle tightness is so bad my legs literally begin to go numb and I am unable to generate much power. When I run every step hurts when I flex my hip because my hammies are so tight that hamstring extension is painful.
I've been seeing a chiro for years. I've had bouts like this before but never for so long or as bad. He sent me for a seated MRI convinced this chronic pain was disc related - MRI came back clear.
I use a foam roller every day.
I'm not sure what my insurance covers in terms of massage/acupuncture. Going to investigate that today.
I'm older (33) but not old! I feel like my body shouldn't be doing this.
Any suggestions wise and fit ones?
How strong is your core?? How much weight lifting do you do?? How much actual stretching do you do on weekly basis?
Core strength? I don't know how to quantify it. I do plyometrics thru derby - situps, planks, etc. On a spectrum of core strength I'd say I'm a little below moderate.
Minimal weight lifting.
Minimal stretching. I know this sounds bad but I have been thru stretching "treatment" before and it never seems to help. I see little improvement with consistent stretching. The three stretches I do are: a hip flexor stretch (knee to floor, foot propped up on wall or sofa behind me), a sitting piriformis stretch (in a chair, cross leg - ankle to knee and gently lean forward) and I stretch my hammies by anteriorly rotating my pelvis and leaning forward with one leg forward of the other and bent at the knee.
I have been told by a ROLFer and my chiro independently that I have tough fascia. Don't know if this impacts things at all.
You doc is possibly right on one thing...there is another underlying issue why you are experiencing so much hamstring and lower back tightness. I asked for core strength because lot of lower back problems can be fixed by strengthening your core but you need to do much more than planks and situps...free weights work great for me, lift heavy. Yes, I am with you on stretching...I am not a big fan but try to do as much as possible.
Have you tried RICE after your workouts when it gets really painful? RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation and is the standard first line course of care when you're suffering from a painful hamstring that's strained due to tightness. Icing your hamstrings for 20 minutes several times daily can alleviate some of the pain and reduce swelling. Compression with an elastic bandage and elevation also curb swelling, which in turn helps the pain recede. I also use a compression recovery tights to sleep in when my hammies hurt too much from running on the sand.
All those problems you are having are linked. It could be from an injury that you didn't know about and has just become aggravated by your exercise. This is just my 2 cents and I sound as flexible as you do, like a 2x4. I have been doing yoga a couple times (2-3) a week and have been doing that for several years now. I do crossfit as my main form of working out, which tends to focus on the core area. A strong core chain, like the lower back, glutes, hip flexors, hamstring and quads are important. You may just have a weakness in one of these areas that is causing you the problems. I try and do exercises that focus on the core area, like kettle ball swings, glute hamstring developer situps, planks, overhead squats, squats, dead-lifts and I throw in a yoga session at least twice a week separate from my normal workout. If I was to target one muscle group or area, I would go for the hip flexors. All power from your legs to your upper body has to transfer through there so it would be the best spot to start. A good exercise I do specifically for the hip flexors is to get on your knees and either hook your feet under something that doesn't move or have someone hold your feet and then lean forward slowly keeping your body straight until you can't hold it and then "fall" forward, catch yourself on your hands, push back up and do it again for several times. Hope you find something that helps, I used to have similar type of pain and problems and what I have been doing has seemed to work for me.
Roller derby has you doing some weird squats and holds while skating; my wife does derby as well.
Last edited by robf; 04-22-2011 at 08:21 AM.
Reason: Poor grammar.
Ciri - thanks for the feedback.
I'm not RICEing because it don't think they are "strained" per se - they are just tight. Its almost like I can't use them - sprinting is out - my ROM is just so limited I can't run fast.
I'm going to work on stretching more. Derby is the most frustrating because the low back pain is so bad that I literally lose partial control over my legs until I stop and do trigger point (foam roller) release on my piriformis on each side. Then I can get up and skate again for a few minutes. Sometimes, 60 minutes into a practice this tightness miraculously goes away and I can skate with no pain. It is like my body needs 60 minutes to warm up. Sigh.
I play a lot of hockey and one stretch I do a lot of is lower back where I just sit on the floor legs stretched out and bend forward. I bend my knees a bit so it's not a hamstring stretch but instead a lower back hip stretch. You can feel your hips sort of stretch and release with this.
I also do old fashioned sit ups (with knees slightly bent) to help equalize the lower back muscles. I once had a nasty pinched sciatic nerve that wouldn't let my brain talk to my leg so it got numb and didn't work right. Equalizing the muscles for about a week actually corrected it. Playing hockey I'm very right dominant muscle wise, so I need to do this to sort of equal things out.
I'd say core and stretching are definitely something you need to think about. I tell all the hockey guys hitting thirty and having groin pulls now, that you need to stretch, you aint a kid anymore.
Do you work in a seated position all day?
I'd suggest you start going to some yoga sessions--with all your problems, if you can find a yoga therapist near you, I'd recommend that as well. I used to just "stretch" as well and had some good results, but didn't really start to see improvements in muscle elasticity or pain until I started doing yoga regularly. I'd recommend you find a beginner's class and do that and see what happens...nothing too vigorous, you should probably take things slow until you develop a better range of motion.
I do agree that we must do some workout regularly like yoga. and also take nutritious diet too.