I’m used to being fairly active and keeping myself as fit as possible however a few years ago I somehow sustained a high hamstring injury which refused to heal. Not only was it in a hard to reach place so physio or any kind of treatment was embarrassing and intrusive - high into the *thutt* (where the thigh meets the butt, as Amy says!) and on into the high groin - it was also very debilitating. I was unable to walk easily up and down stairs, step up and down a kerb, get in or out of the car, reach down to tie my laces or wiggle my foot into a trainer. I couldn’t even do core work such as hold a plank position or do squats. This is how I healed, and what I learnt along the way:
1. I didn’t know we had three major hamstring muscles let alone where they were! I’m one of those people who researches literally everything (I always have to know how and why!), I thought I’d research the hell out of my injury and make a plan from there and all would be well. I soon realised that, whilst there was plenty of information about ordinary hamstring and groin strains, none of it seemed to match what I was experiencing. It took a while to work it all out even after several physio appointments, and when I thought I had identified it, there was still a lack of practical information on injury and recovery. So I’m partly writing this in case it is helpful to anyone experiencing the same thing!
2. I had to learn how to be very, very patient (not one of my strong points!): repetitive physio exercises DO work - but it’s so hard to keep doing them. You have to be very patient, determined and resilient. I faithfully completed all exercises my physio prescribed which included walking backwards on a treadmill at the gym! If you’ve never had to do it then I can tell you that you’ll feel very stupid (and yes, there was some mansplaining about the best way to use a treadmill!), but by that point, I’d have done anything. Those early stage, repetitive exercises are so important for strength and conditioning so I had high hopes that I was on the right track. However despite working hard, the hamstring was still painful.
3. It’s easy to forget that physical injury also affects mental health & wellbeing: I sort of knew this but it’s easy to forget when you’re right in the middle of it. It was a struggle to stay motivated, and to remain positive after such a long period of time. I also felt very much on my own with it. I didn’t want to constantly moan about it to my family and friends, and I didn’t have the money to pay for regular, professional support from a trainer or physio.
4. Pilates is about learning how to be strong from the inside out: thankfully at this point my best mate recommended Amy at ACB Pilates to me and I have never been so grateful! Amy is extremely knowledgeable and experienced and, crucially, she knows what it's like to have to work your way back to full health after injury. She is very aware of the effect that Pilates - and regular exercise in general - can have on mental health and wellbeing. Her Pilates classes are about learning how to be strong from the inside out, they're also about having a laugh whilst doing it!
5. There was no easy fix…. I cannot lie, it probably took a further 6 months of regular pilates classes over the lockdown to finally get me back to full working order. I’m not a quick learner (see above re how and why questions!), however I saw constant improvement over that time and, really importantly for me, I didn’t have to do it on my own.
6. ….but there are happy endings! Twelve months on and my hamstring is almost fully healed. I'm still attending classes, and I'm so grateful to Amy for her expertise, encouragement and support. Pilates isn’t just about coming back from injury of course. For me it's mostly about learning how to be strong, and to understand how my body works and the amazing things it can do...if I could just be a little more patient!