One of the most common injuries in the gym are muscle strains a.k.a pulled muscles. Almost everybody who is into lifting weights or any kind of sports has at some time strained a muscle whether it be a muscle in their back, legs, arms, chest, stomach or groin.
As much as you try to avoid these types of injuries there are times where these types of injuries do occur and that is why I want to address this issue and tell you all how to treat a muscle strain should it ever happen to you.
Now to begin with a muscle strain is basically where your muscle becomes over stretched and little tears form within your muscle. This can happen by working out on cold muscles, over training, exercising a previously injured muscle, or using improper form while lifting.
There are 3 levels of muscle strain severity and they include:
Some muscle soreness/stiffness, not disabling at all, usually subsides in a day or two.
Moderate muscle soreness/stiffness, can limit your ability to perform high intensity activities, could show signs of swelling and or bruising.
Severe muscle soreness/stiffness, muscle spasms, bruising, swelling, inability to do low resistance activities, very painful.
Alright so now that you have a basic knowledge of a muscle strain and the different symptoms that can occur I will now tell you how to treat a muscle strain.
- Step 1: Ice – As soon as you feel you have strained or pulled a muscle it is very important that you apply ice to the affected area(s). Ice will help to keep the swelling and bruising down and will also help with the pain. Ice should be applied 4 to 5 times a day for no longer than 15 min per session.
- Step 2: Rest – Regardless of how severe your muscle strain is you need to give it rest. This rest period should not include any type of activity that could cause more of an injury. The rest period should range from 1-10 days depending on the severity of the strain.
- Step 3: Gentle Stretching – It is strongly recommended that you gently stretch the affected muscle(s), this will help to keep your muscles from becoming over tight and stiff from lack of use. I cannot stress this enough too make sure that the stretches are gentle and very low intensity, you do not want to re-injure yourself or make things worse.
- Step 4: Massage – This step is not necessary and is not required to heal a muscle strain, but from personal experience it can definitely help to shave a few days off you recovery time. A massage from a registered massage therapist helps to get the blood flowing to the muscle, this helps the muscle to heal faster.
The biggest thing you have to remember is that with any muscle injuries they take time to heal and it is recommended that if you feel that you have a level 2 or 3 muscle strain that you seek medical attention as soon as you can, your doctor will be able to further help you with your recovery.
Finally just one last word about muscle strains; the best way to heal a muscle strain is to avoid getting one in the first place. I know it sounds stupid but its the truth. In order to avoid pulling a muscle remember to:
- Warm up and stretch before your workout or activity.
- Use proper form when lifting weights
- Don’t use too much weight
- Never Exercise with an injured muscle
Remember as always if you have not done so you can pick up a free copy of my muscle building guide to the right. I hope this post has helped you out and remember the best way to treat a strain is to avoid getting it in the first place.