It is surprising how easy it is to pull a muscle especially when you do something as simple as sneezing or lifting up your purse/briefcase or lifting up a child.
Chances are you have pulled a muscle sometime in your life. Once you pull that muscle you release how hard it is to live your life with the changes the pulled muscles makes on your body.
A few things that may have caused a pulled muscle in your body – lifting garbage/child, sneezing, reaching for something where you have to stretch, sleeping wrong, sports – are just a few of the ways you can pull a muscle.
When you pull a muscle you can have mild pain or it can be severe and prevent you from standing and walking. Pulling a muscle in medical terms is a grade 1 strain which is where you tear about 5% of the fibers in a muscle. This is what causes the dreaded twinge that we all have experienced.
Sneezing is a forced, sudden movement that if your body is not prepared for can strain the muscles in your low back. This can be very painful and put you out of commission for days or weeks.
Another form of a muscle strain is whiplash after a car accident. That rapid “whip” of the body and head during the accident can cause too much force for your neck to control and then the muscles will be strained.
A third common way to strain your muscles is sports. I know we have all heard about football players pulling a hamstring. Again the leg has too much force put on it for the muscles to control and they get strained.
Everyone heals differently due to the intensity of the injury, how the injury occurred and how strong your body was prior to the strain, and how healthy your body is overall.
If the muscle pain is severe it stops you from doing your normal activities like walking, cleaning your house, shopping, sports, ect. Do not mess around, come in for a free screening as trying to treat them on your own at home a lot of times will make the pain last even longer!
If you have a mild strain which is where you can still move but know you did something wrong (as always if you are in doubt seek help), the RICE method is a good place to start, although it is not 100%.
R = rest. Pushing through the pain is guaranteed to make it worse
I = Ice. General rule of thumb is to ice for 3 days and then change to heat. Make sure to never apply ice directly to the skin to prevent frostbite
C = compression. Apply a soft bandage to support the injured area and compress to decrease swelling. Be sure not to apply to tightly to cut off the blood supply to the area
E = elevation. Try to get the part above the heart level to help decrease swelling
Keep in mind that you still want to have gentle movements that do not cause pain to assist in getting the blood to the area and move the swelling out to assist in healing.
To prevent a pulled muscle make sure to stay hydrated as when you get dehydrated it is easier to strain things. Also make sure to warm up prior to doing activities. This helps get the muscles and soft tissue gliding and can prevent a strain. Finally remember to listen to your body, too much of a good thing is not always the best thing for your body.
At Innovative Physical Therapy we are here to help. If you would like to talk to use about your injury, please set up a free screening at 414-235-3660