How to Manage and Prevent a Pulled Muscle?

How to Manage and Prevent a Pulled Muscle?

A pulled muscle can be very sore. But it's also manageable at home. Read our guide to treating a pulled muscle and what can relieve the pain.

A pulled muscle, also known as a muscle strain, is a soft-tissue injury resulting from tears in your muscle fibers

Unlike the microscopic muscle fiber tears you sustain during a workout, a strained muscle generally involves a larger amount tears to these muscle fibers.
Pulled muscle pain can range from mild discomfort to severe pain that worsens with certain positions and movements. Mild cases can generally be treated with at-home treatments, while severe cases may require surgery.

Read on to learn more about what is a muscle strain is, what happens when you pull a muscle, and how to manage a pulled muscle.

What Causes Muscle Strains?

Overusing or overexerting your muscles, not warming up correctly, or using your muscles incorrectly (making an unusual movement), can all result in pulled muscles.

Forward head posture and slouching for prolonged periods places considerable stress on the neck muscles and the lower back muscles. Over time, the lower back muscles become overused and may develop a muscle strain injury.

Another common cause of muscle strain is improper use of your muscles, such as when lifting something heavy using an incorrect movement. Not stretching, or warming up correctly before exercise, can also lead to muscle strain.

Exerting your muscles when they are weak, fatigued, or tight may also increase your risk of sustaining a muscle strain injury.

Pulled Muscle Symptoms
The symptoms of a pulled muscle will present a little differently for everyone.
However, below are some of the more prevalent symptoms:

A twinge of pain deep in the muscle: Tears in the muscle can feel like a sharp pain, located deep within the muscle.

Limited range of motion: Depending on the severity and amount of muscle fiber tears, you may lose some muscle function, as well as your range of motion.

Tension or discomfort: The symptoms of mildly pulled muscles may be easier to overlook. It might simply feel like there’s tension or discomfort in the general muscle area, but nothing that limits you too much.

Bruising or swelling: Symptoms of moderate to severe muscle strain may involve visible bruising or swelling around the injury site.

Pain: While some cases of muscle strain may simply feel uncomfortable, some people experience debilitating pain.

What Does a Pulled Muscle Feel Like?

Pain from a pulled muscle may feel uncomfortable, sore, or sharp. You can generally tell when you’ve pulled a muscle if the pain feels like it’s emitting from deep within the muscle, and worsens when you move.

For example, symptoms of a pulled muscle in the arm include pain when extending or contracting the arm. This may also affect your range of motion, depending on the severity of the pain.

How to Prevent a Pulled Muscle
After recovering from a pulled muscle, the goal is to avoid re-injury.

Warm up and warm down: Exerting the muscles before they’ve been primed and prepped for physical activity risks a muscle strain injury. Make sure you stretch or do some gentle cardio, like jogging, before undertaking intense physical workouts or exercises. Warming down after exercise is just as important as warming up. If you don’t stretch before and after exercise, it can leave the muscles stiff and more prone to future injury.

Use correct body mechanics: Lifting something heavy with poor body mechanics can cause a muscle strain, even for individuals who are relatively strong. The proper way to lift something heavy is to drive force from the legs and maintain the natural curve of the back, as opposed to stooping over. Stooping over, or leaning forward to pick something up, relies largely on the lower back muscles. Naturally, lifting things in this way risks muscle strain in the lower back.

Strengthen and lengthen: Muscle strains tend to occur when the muscle is overstretched beyond its normal range of motion, or when the muscle is incapable of bearing the weight you exert on it. Practicing flexibility and strengthening the muscles can be a good way to help prevent re-injury. Yoga is a great way of doing this.

Rest when fatigued: Overexerting the muscles (excess tearing) can lead to a pulled muscle as well. When you can feel that your muscles are fatigued, stop and rest. Don’t push yourself too hard.

This content is only for general awareness and not a replacement for medical advice.

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