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Ouch! I think I pull a Hemi! (Muscle Strain)
May 1, 2014
By Kin Wai Wu, MSPT
What is it?
A muscle strain (aka pulled muscle), is when your muscle and tendon area overstretched or torn. This usually occurs (but not always) as a result of fatigue, overuse, or improper use of a muscle. Strains can happen in any muscle, but are most common in your lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring. Depending on the degree of stretch and tear, muscle strain can be rated from mild to severe.
Mild: Only a few muscle fibers were torn. It caused mild bruising and pain.
Moderate: Greater numbers of muscle fibers were damaged. A more noticeable bruising, swelling and pain than mild strain. Loss of muscle strength is expected.
Severe: A total tear of muscle. This is a serious injury that causes complete loss of muscle function, pain, swelling, tenderness and discoloration. Also, there may be an obvious "dent" or "gap" under the skin where the ripped pieces of muscle have come apart. Your muscle could also “ball” up together.
What are the risk factors?
1) Improper warm up routine before physical activity. Most people in Seattle work all day sitting in front of a desk. Your muscles tend to “mold” to your still position. Unfortunately, most physical activity such as running, basketball and soccer are require much standing and rapid motion. Performing sport without warming up is like driving your car on a curvy road with your foot glued on a gas pedal!Warm up routine is more than just stretching! Imaging what happen if you attempted to stretch out an ice cold rubber band? It would crack and snap, right? Your muscle and tendon are function kind of like a rubber band. It requires some dynamic movement in order to regain its flexibility. So, let’s walk 3-5 minutes, row your head and shoulder for half a minute. Do 10 squats, sit ups and push up if you are doing some weight training. After that, you can stretch out your body. Make sure you stretch for at least 30 seconds for each muscle group. In my opinion, this is the most important 5-10 minutes of your workout.
2) People push themselves too hard during their physical activity.In my opinion, unless you are an Olympic class athletes, or training to be one. There is no reason for any average Joe to push their body so hard that cause muscle damaged. I am not saying that you should go easy on your workout and be average. There is nothing attractive about being average! My point is listening to your body. I encourage everyone to challenge causes sharp and stabbing pain in your joints and muscles. Those kinds of pain occur themselves and push to a higher level. However, you can’t benefit from a workout if it when your muscle reaches its physiological limit. It will break if you keep pushing it.
What should I do if I pull my muscle?
Remember the simple phase: RICE. This could help you to reduce your suffering.
R- Rest: Stop using the damaged muscle. (Listen to your body!!)
I- Ice: Apply ice or bag of frozen food to the affected area. Strict ice to skin contact is prohibited!! Make sure to use a towel or a t-shirt to protect your skin from frostbite. Leave the ice on for 15-20 minutes. (Make sure not to apply ice too frequently because it could prolong your healing process)
C- Compression: Wrap the area with a soft ACE- bandage to help reduce swelling. (Do not apply compression frequently because it could also prolong your healing process)
E- Elevation: Prop up the affected area above the level of your heart or at least as close as you can get. This will keep extra body fluid from pooling around the injury site causing more pressure and pain.
If all things fail, physical therapy could help you:
Most muscle strain would cure itself in 3-4 weeks. If you still have pain and limited range of motion and strength after a month. You need to contact me at SageMED to get some help. I will use hands on technique like myofascial release, joint mobilization, and lymphatic drainage to reduce your pain. Of course I will show you a better way to increase your flexibility to prevent future injury.