How to Treat a Muscle Strain

Muscle strains are minor injuries, however, they can prevent you from playing sports for about a week. So, how can you prevent and cure muscle strains?
How to Treat a Muscle Strain

Last update: 06 November, 2020

Have you ever suffered from a strain? Athletes are exposed to a whole range of injuries. Some injuries affect certain disciplines more than others. However, in most sports, muscle injuries are common and frequent. Muscle strains are the most common muscle injuries that occur in sports.

It’s difficult to know exactly how much stress a muscle can take and that’s why strains occur. Read along to find out what strains consist of and how to treat them in order to recover as soon as possible.

What is a muscle strain?

In order to understand how to treat a muscle strain, we must first identify it. A muscle strain is a mild injury that’s caused by micro-tears in the muscle fiber due to sudden or abnormal stretching.

Strains are a little more serious than cramps, however, they’re less serious than partial muscle tears. Micro-tears don’t endanger muscle continuity and unlike partial tears, they don’t break fiber bundles.

As you probably know by now, strains occur due to a lack of muscular flexibility. The more flexible you are the less chance you have to suffer from micro-tears.

woman muscle strain

Strains can also occur if a proper warm-up routine isn’t followed or if your muscles are already fatigued from a previous workout. Since it’s a minor injury, in most cases, strains only hurt when contracting the muscle. In other words, the muscle will only hurt when it’s in use.

Other symptoms include pain due to touch and stiffness. The severity of the symptoms depends on the severity of the strain.

How to treat a muscle strain

The first thing to do is to stop performing the activity you’re carrying out. Continuing with your routine will only lead to a more severe injury.

Next, it’s important to carry out a classic protocol when it comes to these kinds of injuries: ice, compression, rest, and elevation. This classic protocol will reduce the inflammation and edema which usually occur.

Afterward, you should consult your doctor in order to confirm the diagnosis. It’s important to rule out more serious injuries. Diagnostics tests will show the degree of your strain.

In most cases, muscle strains heal on their own with a little rest. It may take a week to ten days in order to fully recover. Apply ice and elevate the area in order to reduce recovery time.

Physiotherapists are great guides when it comes to effective recovery. Gentle massages can promote relaxation and increase circulation.

Shoulder strain

Stay flexible!

After reviewing all of this information, it’s clear that the most important thing to do when it comes to strains is to prevent them. Always warm-up before starting an exercise routine.

A proper warm-up routine will help get the muscle ready which will reduce the risk of injuries.

It’s also important to respect rest periods in order to allow the body to fully recover.  If you feel tired or fatigued, go for a walk or a swim rather than continuing with your routine.

If you suffer a strain after all of these measures, there’s still a silver lining. This is due to the fact that after a week or so of rest, you’ll be ready to continue your routine.

In conclusion, if you want to avoid cramps, strains, and tears, it’s important to stretch, warm-up, and not overdo workouts. Your body will thank you for it.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Equipo médico del FC Barcelona. Guía de Práctica Clínica de las lesiones musculares. Epidemiología, diagnóstico, tratamiento y prevención. 2009.
  • D. Marqués. Efectividad de las prendas de comprensión como modalidad de recuperación de la fatiga muscular en jugadores de fútbol. Tesis doctoral para la Universidad del País Vasco. 2017.
  • J. Kloubec. Pilates for Improvement of Muscle Endurance, Flexibility, Balance, and Posture, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: March 2010 – Volume 24 – Issue 3 – p 661-667

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.