A muscle strain occurs when your muscle or tendon (the tissue that connects your muscle and bone) stretches or tears. This condition is commonly called a pulled muscle. They can occur in any muscle but are most common in the lower back, neck, shoulders and thighs. They can be quite uncomfortable, too, making it difficult to move around or use that muscle. Muscle strains are almost always accompanied by a pain that worsens when the muscle is contracted. They may bruise or swell, and you might find that you lose strength or range of motion in the affected area.
In this article, we'll discuss how to speed up muscle strain recovery so that you can get back to your daily activities.
Here are a few tips to help you recover faster:
1. Visit a physical therapist
There are certainly some things you can do at home to speed up your muscle strain recovery. However, a physical therapist will be able to offer expert advice on what to do. They'll assess your injury and develop a personalized treatment plan that targets your injured muscle and the muscles around it. A physical therapist may also be able to relieve pain in the affected area. They may use manual therapy techniques like strain-counterstrain therapy or myofascial release. These treatments can relieve any tension in your muscles that's causing pain, expediting the healing process to help you get back to full health faster.
2. Compress your muscle
One of the goals in treating any injury is to get as much blood flowing to the injured area as possible. Increased blood flow brings more oxygen, nutrients and white blood cells to the area, which fight infection and promote healing. Compression helps in this regard by squeezing your muscle, sending an increase of blood flow to it. It also helps to squeeze out waste fluid, which will reduce swelling and can provide temporary pain relief.
3. Alternate ice and heat
Ice actually restricts blood flow to an injury, which may seem counterintuitive considering that we want increased circulation. However, if you apply heat directly after applying ice, your veins will overexpand to allow more blood through. This can help to send even more oxygen, nutrients and white blood cells to your strained area. This form of treatment is known as contrast therapy. It provides the best of both worlds ” the numbing effect of ice and the soothing effect of heat ” while encouraging healing. We recommend alternating ice and heat in 20-minute intervals for two to three hours when attempting to speed up muscle strain recovery.
4. Eat protein-rich foods
Consuming protein while you recover can minimize the amount of muscle loss you experience while your muscle is unusable. Eating a lot of protein can also ward off inflammation to keep your recovery moving at a steady pace. Even better, it can help you to rebuild your muscles faster when they start to heal. So, make sure to eat plenty of high-protein foods such as meat, fish, egg, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. It will only help you speed up your muscle strain recovery.
Rest is a crucial component of any injury recovery plan, but it's particularly important if you're trying to speed up your muscle strain recovery. Our muscles repair themselves while we sleep, so it's important to give yourself plenty of downtime. Avoid using the injured muscle whenever possible. If you can, elevate your affected limb while you sleep to allow excess fluid to drain away from your injury. For best results, raise the affected body part above the level of your heart.
6. Avoid high-impact exercises
While you must make sure to get plenty of rest, exercising can keep the rest of your body strong while you recover. However, you should avoid any exercises that place undue stress on your affected muscles. For example, if you pull a shoulder muscle, you may want to avoid lifting heavy weights (at least with that shoulder) until you see some recovery progress. Instead, switch to a low-impact exercise like swimming. You might talk to a physical therapist about aquatic therapy, which can speed up your muscle strain recovery without overworking your injury.
7. Stretch and warm up before you work out
Here's another tip to keep in mind if you decide to work out while recovering: Start every exercise session by stretching and warming up. If you jump right into working out without stretching, you run the risk of overstretching your muscles. This is often the reason why people experience muscle strains. By stretching and warming up, you'll loosen your muscles before you start to put stress on them. That way, you won't strain any more muscles than you already have.
Alliance PTP is ready to help you find top-notch PT for muscle strains
At Alliance Physical Therapy Partners, we're proudly bringing together physical therapy practices across the country to help people get the high-quality PT they need. Want to see a physical therapist in person? We can put you in touch with an Alliance PTP partner that's close to you and that can help you address your strained muscle Not keen on in-person PT sessions or not close to an Alliance PTP partner? No worries. We also offer effective and affordable virtual physical therapy through our Agile Virtual Physical Therapy platform. Contact our team today so we can help you find the most effective physical therapy services for your injury or condition.