Muscle Strains – What is happening?

Monday, 20th March 2017

They occur when a muscle is forcefully and suddenly contracted, usually when it is in a stretched or elongated position. (So, as your knee is straightening and the hamstrings are slowing down the speed before the foot touches the ground). This excessive tension causes the muscles to be injured. A strain may also occur when a muscle is over-stretched has insufficient strength, lacks flexibility, is not warmed-up or is under fatigue.

What has happened?

Some or all of the fibres in a muscle are stretched or torn; commonly referred to as a “pulled muscle”.

Strains are very common and may affect any muscle in the body such as your lower back, neck, shoulder and hamstring.

Acute strains happen from slipping and losing your footing, jumping, running throwing something, lifting something heavy, lifting something whilst you are in an awkward position.

Chronic strains happen from repetitive movement such as tennis, golf, holding your back and neck in an awkward position for long periods of time such as at your work desk, poor posture.

What to do

  • Rest muscle & stop aggravating activity
  • Icing the area
  • Compression with an elastic bandage
  • Elevate the area if it is a limb
  • Refer for an assessment & diagnosis by our friendly Physio’s

What you might feel

  • Sudden sharp pain, you can’t continue the activity you were doing
  • Stiffness & weakness after finishing the activity & cooling down
  • Pain worsening during any activity that places force or a stretch through the affected muscle

Physiotherapy treatment & prevention

  • Education, technique or training corrections, prevention of further strains
  • Massage, dry needling, joint mobilisations, ice & heat
  • Exercise program: improve flexibility & strength once pain has reduced
  • Gradual return to sport
  • Full recovery is expected but timeframe depends on severity and management
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