Muscle Strains and Physio
Muscles strains are a common injury. They often happen when a muscle has been stretched past its normal range. Also known as a “pulled muscle” or “muscle tear” they are often associated with sport due to the extra load and use. There are many degrees of muscles strains, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms can include swelling, pain, stiffness and bruising. There are a range of muscle strain treatments to help reduce pain and swelling, and encourage a full recovery.
What is a Muscle Strain?
Usually a muscle strain happens at high-speed when the muscles have become overloaded. Any muscle can be affected by a muscle strain however the most common injuries include hamstrings, quadriceps, biceps, calf and groin. Muscle strains may include the following symptoms:
- Muscle tightness
- Inability to stretch injured muscle fully
Other types of muscle strain include fatigue-relate strain. This may happen from sustained postures and often affect the back, neck and shoulders. A common fatigue-related muscle strain is “text neck”, caused by overusing your phone. Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is another common muscle strain condition. RSI is a result of a combination of postural fatigue and the overuse of smaller upper limb muscles.
Muscle Strain Treatment
Treatment for a muscle strain will depend on a professional diagnosis and the severity of the strain. Physical therapy for muscle strain helps to decrease healing time and improve function. However, the length of healing and rehabilitation will depend on how severe the injury is as well as what load or function your injured muscle will need to cope with during treatment. For example, sprained ankle treatment length will depend on whether the injury is a minor sprain which will be a fairly fast recovery, or a ligament tear, which will require a longer recovery time.
Immediate treatment (RICE) should include:
- R – rest
- I – icepack
- C – compression (bandage)
- E – elevation
Muscles strain recovery times can vary. It may take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to successfully recover. Your physio will be able to accurately guide you through the treatment process. Early treatment guided by your physio will significantly improve healing time and have you returning to normal activities faster.
Muscle Strain Prevention
The most effective way to prevent a muscle strain is to warm up before starting physical activity, and to cool down afterwards. Your physiotherapist will also teach you the best way to prevent injuries from reoccurring. During treatment, your exercise program will help to increase strength and stability, helping to reduce the chance of a future injury.
Muscle sprains can be sudden due to sport or other physical activities, or more gradual such as postural fatigue. Healing and rehabilitation time will vary depending on the severity of the injury, however initial muscle strain treatment should include rest, ice, compression and elevation. With treatment started as early as possible a muscle strain can be healed reasonably quickly with exact recovery time depending on the type of injury, age, and the general health of the individual.