What You Should Do If You’ve Pulled A Muscle

If you have ever ‘pulled’ or torn a muscle you will be able to remember it quite clearly.

It can be quite a painful experience, especially if it’s a bad tear.

I have seen it quite often on the football pitch. A player will be running full speed and then bang!, he’ll be down on the ground in agony holding their hamstring. 

Of course, the pain depends on the severity of the tear and muscle tears range from what’s known as a grade 1 tear to a grade 3 tear.

A lot of people will have suffered grade 1 tears where the muscle fibres are only partially torn, as opposed to a grade 3 tear where a large portion of the muscle is torn.

So, how do you tear a muscle?

Basically, when the force put on the muscle is greater than what it can tolerate at that time. This can happen when sprinting, lifting something heavy or from trying to move something in awkward position.

Sometimes it doesn’t take much. I had a man come into the clinic a few weeks ago who had pulled a muscle in his lower ribs from sneezing. Now, it was only a minor tear but he was still in some discomfort for a while and anything that put extra pressure on that area, like laughing, was not too pleasant for a few days.

What should you do when you tear a muscle?

Lets get down to the part you need to know.

The best protocol to follow is still the PRICE method.  PRICE stands for Protect – Rest – Ice – Compression – Rest

Now before I go through each one it is important to know how severe the tear is and to RULE OUT if anything more serious has happened.

If in doubt seek the help of a physio or GP,  but you will get an idea based on the amount of movement and strength in the injured area. If you have no strength and no movement then it is a more severe tear and you should get it checked out at your local clinic.

So lets go through PRICE

  • P – stands for Protect. Obvious enough. Don’t do anything that further harms or causes more injury to the muscle
  • R – Rest. Initially, this is important to allow for muscle repair and healing
  • I – Ice. There is some debate about ice and if it should always be applied but currently it is still recommended. It limits the amount of swelling so that your movement is not too restricted and you can recover quicker. However, swelling is the bodies way of healing and will happen and is needed to happen. Ice should only be applied for 10 – 15 minutes at a time and no more than 3 times in the space of an hour.
  • C – Compression. Again, compression is applied to limit the swelling. Don’t apply to much as again swelling is needed to occur
  • E – Elevation. Elevating the limb is designed to reduce swelling. It can have some role to play, how much, I personally have my doubts, but it is still recommended.

Some Practical Information To Finish

So now that you have an understanding of the recommended protocol for a muscle tear lets finish with some practical information.

Initial healing and rest needs to be respected to a muscle tear but as soon as possible, in the clinic, I always aim to start putting some load or force through the muscle again. This should only be a small force and should be done in a very controlled way but it stimulates the muscle, helps speed up healing and keeps some strength in the muscle.

Another thing I advice is to not stretch the muscle in the early phase of the injury. Nice easy movement yes, but strong and continuous stretching no. This can cause more bleeding and swelling into the area which will prolong the injury.

As always, if you are not sure and in doubt, then go get it checked out by a suitably qualified therapist or a GP.

You can also get in touch with me here at the clinic by calling 089 210 2586 and I will offer my advice and guidance.

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