Physical Rehabilitation Medicine/Tight Hamstring Muscle

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Question
Hi, I've had a continuing problem with Hamstring tightness in my right leg.  It hurts a bit and just has a general tightness feel.  I had it a few months ago, it lasted maybe a month in a half then.  I iced it and rested a lot, but it took a long time to heal.  It went away, but haven't been stretching as much as I should have and now it has now returned.  Could you please give me ways I can help heal it faster and then to prevent it from coming back?  Would ice and heat help, should I stretch it while it is still hurting, would massage help, would stretching and massage combination help?  Thank you so much, I appreciate it

 Jim

Answer
Dear Jim,

Your hamstring will heal especially if you figure out some of the reasons it was strained.

Some people tend to be tighter in their muscles overall.  You may be like this.  

There is also the influence from how you use your hamstring muscles that can be part of the trouble.  For example, if you sit for long periods with your knees bent under your chair and you sit rolled back to the back edge of the bony part of your butt (technically called the ischial tuberosities, or "sitz bones") you will habituate your hamstrings to functioning very short.  Stretching will always be a struggle.

It this sounds like you, change your sitting position to up on the center of the butt bones and legs reached out straighter at the knees.  Your low back muscles will have to start to work for you too.  Better for the health of your back in the long haul.

Combine this change with gentle stretching, long and slow. Let pain be your guide and stay out of it. Massage is a great adjunct.

Happy New Year,

Rachel

Physical Rehabilitation Medicine

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Rachel Katz, PT, SEP

Expertise

I have expertise working with recovery from car accidents, RSD/CRPS, neck and back pain and chronic pain. I can answer questions about pain that is not responding to expected patterns of recovery. I can address pain issues that are associated with traumatic events, and veteran associated pain issues. If you have had abuse or periods of significant stress in your life, your pain issues may be more complicated. I authored A Consumer Guide for Recovery from Car Accidents which discusses many aspects of injury recovery as all as specific detail about PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and protective involuntary muscle spasm. The link is: http://mindbodyphysicaltherapy.com/car-accident/ I can't answer questions regarding pain medications, or some specifics related to surgical interventions.

Experience

I have over 30 years experience as a Physical Therapy clinician. I taught swimming in Michigan and skiing in Aspen. I have experience in analyzing movement patterns and muscle control. I treat all areas of pain in the body including headaches, neck pain, back pain, shoulder injuries, plantar fasciitis, nerve compression, and knee pain. I have had personal experience with chronic pain, RSD, car accident injuries, PTSD, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Muscle spasm and pain is a common component of injury and response to traumatic stress. Posture patterns and habits of how your body is often used can also contribute to pain. Restoration of movement and the senses that enable you to feel it are key. Rachel developed and implemented a stress reduction program for inmates within the Boulder County jail's drug and alcohol recovery program in 2005-2006 based on trauma healing principles from Dr. Peter Levine.

Education/Credentials
Rachel holds a BS in PT from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She has over 30 years experience as a clinician. She has over 1500 hours of post graduate continuing education in many Manual Therapy and Exercise approaches. She completed her training in Somatic Experiencing under Dr. Peter Levine in 2000. This 3 year program trains therapists in treating traumatic stress conditions. Rachel has developed a body of work integrating her training and unique insights into complex pain issues. She is the developer and instructor for Sensory-Motor Manual Therapy, which is a State approved 2 day work shop for Massage Therapists through the Boulder College of Massage Therapy.

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