Is It An Injury Or Just Soreness?

When I found out I could join the community college basketball team, the thought of running drills and playing again was thrilling!  I joined them mid-season, however, I didn’t think through the level of tensile strength that sprinting requires.  That first week really did me in.  My hamstrings had never been so sore!  I pushed through 3 practices within 8 days.  I thought my hamstrings would acclimate within a few weeks, especially because once warmed up, the soreness would minimize.  However, after almost 2 months of 1-2 practices a week, the soreness was still intense after each practice.

I work with chiropractor Dr. Adam Benjamin so I asked him, “How can I tell if it’s an injury or just soreness?”  He explained that:

A)  If you are sore from a recent increase in activity and as long as it starts to improve within a few days, it’s probably just soreness (a natural effect of building muscle).  The exceptions are tendonitis or bursitis – they can be disguised in this pattern of feeling better upon warming up, but then pain/discomfort flares after activity.

B) If the pain doesn’t begin improving within three to four days, there could be an injury.  It should be evaluated, especially if it continues to be sore while doing the activity.  Also, technique of the exercise should always be evaluated for flaws.

The diagnostic tests Dr. Benjamin performed did not show obvious injury though some weakness.  He said it could be tendinitis.  We also agreed I was too sporadic with training and I needed a stronger base to accommodate the level of tensile strength that sprinting requires.  I hoped I could just rewind and take my advice I wrote last month about avoiding injury.  I worked on getting stronger.

I tried some focused hamstring strengthening and running 1/2 – 3/4 speed a few weeks, but unfortunately the pain was still too intense after the workout.  I went back to Dr. Benjamin for further evaluation because it was now more obvious that I must have developed some type of injury.  He said I most likely strained my hamstrings that initial practice/first week, and because I never rested long enough to heal fully I have started the creation of tendinitis at the upper hamstring attachment.  Rest is needed and a slow build up is required = rehab.

I had to learn (again) that “no pain, no gain” is not effective once you’ve pushed to the point of injury.  Now I’ll be learning more about tendinitis and tendinosis.


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