THE CLINIC: Diagnosing a Hamstring Problem

Thu, 13 Sept. 2012 - 1:24 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association

QUESTION:
Every time I run a long distance I feel discomfort in my right hamstring. I want to increase my speed after six miles but cannot due to the pain. After a recent half-marathon during which I had hamstring pain from the midpoint of the race to the finish, I experienced pain in the gluteus maximus and right knee. What’s wrong? This has happened to me in the last five half-marathons I’ve run.
 
Sue Caldwell
Pipe Creek, TX
 
ANSWER:
This is a very common problem with several possible causes. It is an overuse problem with its root in a mechanical error. Are you a veteran runner or is this a relatively new sport for you? Training can be a factor. What is the time frame in which you’ve run all these half-marathons? Make sure you are allowing enough recovery time between races and hard workouts.
 
There is likely a weakness in the stabilizing muscles of your pelvis. This can lead to overuse of the hamstrings and adductors and cause strain or tendinitis in these groups. Another cause may be a dysfunctional sacroiliac joint (between your tailbone and hip). You will likely need to see a physical therapist to overcome the problem, whatever its cause. In the meantime, take time off from running, and crosstrain as long as it doesn’t hurt.
 
John Cianca, MD
Houston, TX

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The American Running Association (ARA) and its Clinic Advisory Board disclaims responsibility and shall have no liability for any consequences suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site. ARA does not endorse specifically any test, treatment, or procedure mentioned on this site.

(RUNNING & FITNEWS® April/March 2006 • Volume 24, Number 2)



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