As you may remember, I spoke of some hamstring trouble that I had in late July. Despite taking 2 weeks off, I am still feeling a little something in that area and really want to figure it out before I get too deep into the season and the stress of training and racing puts it over the edge again.
So, in order to remedy this, I have done two things. The first thing I did was to go for a massage. This was done over at Kingston Body Management (a health and physio clinic in town, more on them in later a blog) by a fellow named Todd who had worked with the Queen's XC team a few years back. He also did some work on my back and neck, both of which have been giving me some trouble and may indeed be contributing to my hamstring issue. These kinds of massages are not enjoyable experiences, in fact my hammy felt worse afterwards than it had done before. However, I was still able to get out for an hour run later than day and I think it will help my recovery in the long run. Better had do anyway!
The second thing I did was to email a doctoral student named Sivan in a Biomechanics lab here at Queen's. This is part of my intent to take a more scientific approach to my running. From a friend, I had heard about his study looking into the relationship between knee injuries and thigh muscle strength. The muscles in the thigh can be divided into several groups, although the two groups that this study focussed on were the quadriceps (front/ventral side of the leg which straighten the leg) and the hamstrings (the back/dorsal side of the leg which pull the foot towards one's bum). The hamstrings and quadriceps are antagonistic to each other (ie as one contracts, the other relaxes) and it is important that they correctly together. I hoped that the study would be able to determine if I had any inbalances between the muscle groups, both in the same leg and across different legs. Although my results wouldn't be useful to the study, the doctoral student was kind enough to accomodate my request and used me to teach some other students how to the machines and technology used in the study worked. The protocol of the study called for me to be strapped into a chair with one of my feet attached to a machine. Starting with my knee bent at 90 degrees I was to extend my leg to 180 degrees and then and contract it back to its original position, as fast as I could. I had to do this 40 times on each leg at maximal effort. The machine would measure the force output of both my quadriceps and my hamstring during their respective contractions. It was an exhausting protocol and after 40 repetitions my heart was hammering and my entire leg was dead. They allowed me some respite to let my heart settle before strapping in my opposite leg into the machine and performing another 40 reps.
The results are still being evaluated by Sivan, but from an inital glance at the results it seems that my left quad is significantly weaker than my right quad. My hamstrings (despite the injury to the left) are very comparable. This is interesting as I would have presumed that the left hamstring would have been the weak factor. It seems that the weakness in the left quad may be causing the hamstring to overcompensate resulting in injury. However, we shall evaluate the results when they are complete and I shall let you know what we think.
Big props to Sivan for putting in the time to help me out though!
Thats all for now. Hit just over 60miles this week and more to come next week. School starts tomorrow as well. Its been a long but pleasent summer, very enjoyable and fruitful, but the nerd inside of me is excited to get back to some more intellectual pursuits!