A muscle can be pulled in any number of ways: One could pick up a bag too quickly at the grocery store checkout line, look over one’s shoulder quickly while glancing at a cute member of the opposite sex, or jolt up suddenly while guarding another player in basketball. The generic term for a pulled muscle is a strain. A strain is considered a large tearing of muscle tissue. The larger amount of muscle fibers one strains, the bigger the strain and the more pain one will feel.
It’s similar to working out: the harder the muscle has to work, the greater risk of developing a larger tear. However, it’s not recommended to go around acting like Mario from ‘Super Mario Brothers’ and trying to jump as high and as far as one can as if trying to win the long jump. The recipient could end up straining their larger leg muscle groups such as their calves, hamstrings, glutes, or back muscles. In addition, there are things called cars and society, which will both be in peoples’ way while they engage in Mario Brothers jumping.
A person will acquire a strained muscle more frequently if one does not stretch properly beforehand, if the person has weak muscles, or if the individual is fatigued (https://vitals.lifehacker.com/what-to-do-when-you-pull-a-muscle-from-working-out-1759172514). Straining a muscle can also be the result of overworking the muscle. Some examples of these repetitive activities are running, factory work, digging, kayaking, rowing, or golfing.
One’s first instinct after contracting a strained muscle is usually to stretch the muscle. However, the pulled muscle likely is a result of overworking the muscle. Therefore, stretching the muscle to its complete range of motion, is going to be futile (https://vitals.lifehacker.com/what-to-do-when-you-pull-a-muscle-from-working-out-1759172514). Avoiding doing anything to exacerbate the muscle’s pain, is one’s best option to achieve full recovery.
Resting for as many days as needed is also recommended to calm the muscle down. Resting a muscle to calm it down is similar to walking on a cranky neighbor’s fresh lawn: the culprit should stay clear of the lawn and maybe even the street where the neighbor’s lawn is located. The neighbor will be unable to yell at the intruder similarly to the muscle being unable to scream at its workout host.
The R.I.C.E. method is the recommended treatment for muscle strains. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. RICE includes the following:
Rest: Take the time to heal the strained muscle and avoid physical activities.
Ice: Apply a cold pack to the muscle 4 to 8 times per day for 20 minutes at a time.
Compression: “Compress your muscle by applying a steady, gentle pressure on it. This prevents swelling and inflammation, which delay healing” (https://www.healthline.com/health/muscle-strain-treatment#risks).
Elevation: Raise the injured limb above your heart with a pillow to reduce swelling.
Anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil) or aspirin can also help to mitigate the swelling. In addition, physical therapy is another option if needed.
There has been research that says that regular stretching does not help to prevent muscle strain. Therefore, a person can be as flexible as Gumby and still receive a muscle strain. An effective warm-up may help to prevent torn muscle damage though. “Focus on moving your muscles and joints through a full range of motion with “dynamic stretching”, and prepare for your workout by doing less intense versions of your actual exercise” (https://vitals.lifehacker.com/what-to-do-when-you-pull-a-muscle-from-working-out-1759172514). Some tips to ease athletes back into their workouts after resting:
• Know how your body feels: Be aware of one’s return of strength and range of motion, rather than adhering to a certain recovery time. However, the magnitude of one’s pain will be the deciding factor for one’s workout return, but the main issue is to remain pain free. And, when one does return to working out, gradually increase the intensity week-by-week in relation to how your body feels.
• If you’re tired, reduce the activity time Don’t attempt to go all out during a workout if you are tired but instead, be sure to go slow.
• Start back slowly Ease back into the activity or sport so you don’t injure yourself again.
Just know that peoples’ bodies are resilient and can come back strong. Be sure to not push it though and undergo the proper care to return to full health!