I remember it vividly... the first time I sustained a torn hamstring.
The instant reaction was a shooting pain in my hamstring and knowing then and there exactly what had happened. Then after the first few initial seconds pass, you realise that not only will you not be playing the rest of the game, but you may not be playing the rest of the season.
What made matters worse was it was only five weeks until the state championships and I knew that I may not be playing. And on top of all of that is the feeling that I have let my teammates down.
After the first few days on ice, I got up the courage to go and see a medical professional to see what the prognosis was and how long I was going to be out. It is the hardest thing for an athlete to face, the inevitable time of the sideline. And since I have been through it myself I have noticed how difficult it can be for other athletes going through a similar thing.
The initial denial is overwhelming and hard to fight. Especially two to three days after the injury has occurred; it doesn't hurt as much, you can walk properly again and maybe even run.
But the reality is that if you try to step out on the field again there is no doubt that you will do yourself more damage. What you need to do is rest and rehab, rest and rehab, rest and rehab... rinse and repeat.
For a competitive athlete, this is almost unbearable and you would do anything to avoid having to deal with the situation. But what every athlete needs to understand is once reality sinks in, it is the first step to recovery and the first step you need to take to return to your best.
I have seen a number of friends hurt their hamstring, ignore it, play the following week only to make it worse, then try again a week later, to SURPRISINGLY another torn hamstring.
A friend of mine has had to give up sports that involve running altogether because he is now so susceptible to hamstring tears that it is almost guaranteed that if he steps out on to a field, it will happen again. "You can bet your house on it" he would say.
Knowing this, I was determined to not make this my fate. I followed my doctor's advice exactly. Every word noted and followed without question. I did everything religiously from doing the prescribed exercises morning and night to starting the running program to increasing my speed slowly over a number of weeks to ensure proper hamstring recovery.
It turns out that I did end up making it back to my state championships five weeks after the event and playing at a level that I didn't think was possible.
In the end, when you read about hamstring tears on the internet, no where does it say what is required mentally with both how to deal with the injury and start the rehab process to ensuring you continue the rehab to the end.
But if an athlete is prepared to follow a rehab program and with as much enthusiasm and focus they are able to apply to their regular training regime, there is no doubt they can return to their best from a torn hamstring with minimum risk of an additional stint to the sideline.