Pulling a muscle is a highly painful experience and something that every athlete always has at the back of their mind. While it doesn't tend to be a career ending issue, it nevertheless can take you out of your chosen sport for a long period of time and leave you bed bound until it recovers and it's certainly not pleasant to go through.Fortunately, if you know how to treat the muscle pain and if you take the right precautions it's possible to lead an active lifestyle as seen on connectedcongress.org without worrying too much about muscle pain on a constant basis. Here we will look at how you can treat a pulled muscle and at what's going on.
What is a Pulled Muscle?
When you engage in any form of physical exercise you create tiny microtears in your muscle fiber. This means that the fibers are 'ripping' but on such a microscopic level that you can't really feel it and that it doesn't cause any loss of function. This tearing is in fact a good thing because it's what allows your muscles to grow back stronger by thickening the fibers when they're repaired.
When you pull a muscle however this is happening to a much greater degree. Here the muscle will have suddenly been put under a heavy load, or forced to contract quickly, and that will cause much too many muscle fibers to tear so that it's highly painful and so you lose movement. In severe cases this leads to bruising and even a physical 'gap' in the muscle which you can feel through the skin.
How to Treat It
While a pulled muscle isn't necessary for hypertrophy and should be avoided, it can still recover in the same way on its own it just needs a little help. This is where the 'RICE' treatment comes in which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Basically you are resting it to prevent further damage while using ice, compression and elevation to drain the swelling which can cause discomfort and damage otherwise. Note that you shouldn't hold ice directly against the skin but should go through a cloth or blanket, and that you shouldn't use ice for more than ten minutes at a time without a break - otherwise you can damage the skin cells.
Meanwhile you can also speed up the recovery in some other ways. Using myotherapy for instance, which is a form of massage, you can encourage blood flow to the muscles in order to deliver vital nutrients, while at the same time encouraging the draining of excess fluids further. Consuming lots of protein and getting lots of sleep will also help.
Better than cure though is prevention, and taking some measures before engaging in physical exercise (whether it's running or just lifting boxes out of your car), you should make sure to spend some time doing stretches and warming up. This again gets the blood flowing to the muscles but also helps to warm them up and make them more flexible and limber. It might seem like a pain to have to spend minutes bouncing around and bending, but it can save you a lot of inconvenience down the line.