Hamstrung by a hamstring

It was the second inning and we were only down by two, but already I could feel the game slipping away. There was a short fly to the first base side, I started to sprint over and — Aiieee! — I felt a hamstring go. The semitendinosus, if my reading of the Full Body Anatomy chart was right. I one-hopped the fly, another run scored and I suddenly had visions of my active life grinding to a leg-elevated, ice-bagged halt.

I rarely get injured, thanks more to the grace of Coach Upstairs than to dedicated preventative training on my part. Never was much for stretching when stretching before a workout was in, tend to jump right into an activity today rather than do a slow warm-up, as is the current prescription among trainer types. Fit-tastic and my coach Tim Clark have begun to introduce me to this novel concept — we start every workout with a very easy 2-mile run — but old habits die especially hard in older psyches.

Immediately after irritating my hamstring— well, not immediately; we finished the game, losing 7-6 — I did what any modern day recreational athlete does: I Googled it. Wait, I lie again: The first thing I did was get out my “Anatomy of  Exercise: A Trainer’s Inside Guide to Your Workout” to determine that indeed it was my left semitendinosus that had been aggrieved. I learned that it was a tendon, that it was one of three members of the hamstring family running the back of the leg, and that on a severity scale of three, my injury was a two — some pain, walk with a noticeable limp.

As is the case with any Google search, it took me a minute or two to find what appeared to be a reliable source. I went first to my go-to source on health matters, Mayoclinic.com, where I found a brief but helpful description indicating that in such strains, the muscle fiber is either stretched or torn, that rest and gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are typically good, that the injury can take two to six weeks — with proper attention — to heel. Good enough for a non-active type, but I needed to know more. Specifically, I needed specifics on how I could whittle that two to six weeks down to two to three days. I Googled on.

When I Google for medical information, I primarily look at two things. One, credentials. Is the source well-versed on the topic? Does she have a medical degree? Is he certified in sports medicine or training? A quick visit to the “About” section should answer this question. (If there is no “About” section, that should answer your question right there.) I also look at whether the site is trying to sell anything. The first site I visited had good, basic information on the muscles and their function. But when it came to dealing with injuries, there were only links to various videos, medicines and “therapy” programs guaranteed to work or your money back. I opted for the Web site of Dr. Stephen M. Pribut, a Washington, D.C., doctor specializing in podiatric sports medicine, biomechanics and foot surgery. His site has been up since 1995, his descriptions and advice were easy to understand.

Now, perhaps the smart thing would be to go directly to my doctor. And if my situation were more severe — if I had intense pain that wasn’t initially placated by ice and iboprofen, if I was walking like Chester on Gunsmoke, I would. But on similar matters in the past I’ve found that with the abundance of increasingly helpful information available on the internet — especially regarding minor sports injuries — it’s more efficient, economically and otherwise, to at least try the internet doctor route. (In part, this is because I’ve been told to act my age one too many times.) If I follow an online prescription and don’t see improvement in a week or two, I’ll make a brick-and-mortar appointment.

I’ve babbled enough for today. I’ll get to what my online doc — as well as my Fit-tastic running coach, Tim Clark — suggested tomorrow.Hamstrung by a hamstring

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