Muscle Injuries: causes and treatments

23rd February 2019
Muscle injuries are prevalent among athletes. In the following article, we'll delve into what its causes and treatments are.

A muscle injury usually occurs as a result of fatigue or excessive and inappropriate use of a muscle. However, in most cases, we can avoid muscle injuries just by knowing their causes and treatments. Since we don’t want you to interrupt your workouts, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about these types of injuries.

Indeed, a large number of muscle injuries occur because we don’t warm-up correctly or we tried doing an exercise that was too demanding. As for the time it takes to recover from a muscle injury, it depends on the severity of the injury.

Fortunately, most people who receive treatment quickly can recover perfectly from muscle injuries. In doing so, they can resume physical activity within a few days or weeks.

All the same, it’s recommended to follow the instructions of a professional, and not do high-intensity physical exercises until the muscles have healed. In fact, if you consider returning to training too soon, you run the risk of injuring yourself and increasing the severity of the problem.

Possible causes of muscle injury

1. Warming up inadequately

The first thing you should know is how important it is to dedicate time to warm-up, in order to avoid muscle injuries. In fact, not warming up properly increases the risk of injury when it comes time to participate in sports and physical activities.

2. Doing a new exercise routine

Often, a muscular injury can occur when an athlete begins a new routine or exercise program. This occurs most notably when an athlete increases the intensity of the workouts or the duration of the routine.

Keep in mind that when this happens, the muscles work harder, which can cause muscle pain or injury.

3. Excessive effort and fatigue

Excessive effort and fatigue are two of the most common causes of muscle injuries. Therefore, you should always listen to your body and not make excessive efforts that may hurt you. The best way to prevent this from happening is to be aware of your own weaknesses and strengths.

Likewise, training while fatigued increases your chances of injury. In all cases, knowing your body and listening to it is the best way to prevent all injuries from happening!

4. Staying in shape

Finally, maintaining a healthy body-weight is one of the biggest keys to avoiding any muscle injury. Obesity can stress the muscles, especially in the legs and the back, as well as cause an unexpected injury.

What’s the right treatment for muscle injuries?

Most muscle injuries can be cured at home, so it’s not always necessary to see a doctor. However, keep in mind that this will be indispensable in certain occasions.

For less severe injuries, this is the treatment you should follow:

1. Rest

The first tip to a quick recovery is to rest and avoid using the damaged muscle when you feel pain.

However, at the same time, you should be aware that too much rest can cause the muscles to weaken and, as a result, prolong the recovery process. Because of this, it’s advisable to start exercising the affected muscle gradually, without overdoing it.

2. Ice

In order to minimize any swelling from a muscle injury, you should apply ice immediately. Remember that you shouldn’t apply ice directly on your skin; always use a towel to wrap the ice and keep it on the affected area for about 20 minutes.

Ideally, you should repeat this procedure every four hours during the first few days of recovery, until the swelling is reduced.

3. Compression and elevation

Thirdly and lastly, if you want to reduce the swelling, you can wrap the affected area with an elastic bandage until the swelling subsides. However, you should be careful not to squeeze too hard, since you can cut blood circulation and hinder the recovery. Whenever possible, keep the injured muscle elevated.

As you can see, most muscle injuries can be avoided if you follow some basic tips. The main thing to remember is to warm-up properly beforehand and pay attention to your body’s signals. By doing so, you’ll reduce the number of injuries and lengthen your sports productivity.

  1. Järvinen, T. A. H., Järvinen, T. L. N., Kääriäinen, M., Kalimo, H. Järvinen, M. Muscle Injuries: Biology and treatment. American Journal of Sports Medicine (2005). doi:10.1177/0363546505274714
  2. Weise, K. Muscle injuries in General Trauma Care and Related Aspects: Trauma Surgery II (2014). doi:10.1007/978-3-540-88124-7_15