A muscle pull (or strain) occurs when you twist, pull, or tear your muscle or tendon, the strong elastic cord that connects your muscle to the bone. As we age we are more susceptible to muscle pulls. However, you risk a pull if you don’t warm up properly before you exercise and stretch a muscle past its limit, train longer than what your body can handle, or if you push a past muscle injury too far before the muscle has had adequate time to heal.
You will know a muscle is pulled typically within 24 to 48 hours of the injury, as the area will become stiff, sore, you may experience loss of movement and muscle spasms, and bruising or swelling will often develop around the injured muscle.
If you suffer a pulled muscle, here are ten ways to help speed the healing and soothe the pain and inflammation…
Icing a muscle strain as quickly as possible will do its part to reduce swelling and soothe pain. Ice applications can be administered in ice pack form or you can wrap ice cubes in a towel and cover the area frequently throughout the day for no more than 15-minutes each time.
Elevating a pulled muscle will help reduce inflammation to the area. Just keep your injury above your heart level by propping it up on a pillow. This will encourage the body to send fluid buildup away from the injured area.
Resting a pulled muscle will quicken the recovery of the injury. Depending on the seriousness of the muscle strain, you should rest the injured area for between 2 and 5 days.
4. Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Over the counter anti-inflammatory tablets will also reduce pain and inflammation of a muscle injury. However, heed the instructions closely so you don’t take too much and damage your liver. If pain persists past a few days, talk with your doctor about anti-inflammatory prescription drugs.
Muscle stiffness can be lessened by administering heat to the affected area. In fact, heating the injured muscle will allow gentle stretching so you can gain back mobility to the injured area faster.
6. Gentle Stretching
As recommended, follow heat with gentle stretches to an injured muscle to help gain back mobility, strength, and flexibility. Building strength in the injured muscle before you begin using it again will help prevent further injuries to the area in the future.
Massaging a pulled muscle will speed healing by stimulating blood circulation to the damaged area. Gentle massage will also provide heat, release tension in the muscle, and lessen swelling. Just be sure to use gentle massage so you don’t injure the area further.
Soaking in a warm bath will also help heat the injured muscle to reduce pain and swelling. Add a few cups of Epsom salts to your bathwater and soak the muscle for 10 to 15 minutes to ease stiffness and promote mobility.
Warming up a muscle with a previous injury will ensure the muscle is loose to prevent further injury in the future. Before starting any form of exercise, you should warm up for at least 10-minutes prior to reduce muscle strains and post-exercise pain.
Injured muscles that are prone to pulls and strains are typically weak. So it makes sense that following an injury, you should focus on healing and then strengthening the muscle before re-engaging in physical activity so you are less likely to sustain another injury.