Muscle Strain

john miller physiotherapist

Article by John Miller


Muscle strain

What is Myalgia?

The most common source of myalgia (or muscle pain) is a muscle strain due to overstretching. A muscle strain may also be referred to as a pulled muscle or a muscle tear. A muscle strain can vary in severity from mild to severe and ultimately, a complete muscle rupture.

Either way, your muscle strain will result in muscle pain, or at least muscle soreness, plus reduced muscle function including muscle weakness, stiffness or tightness.

What is a Muscle Strain?

Commonly, your muscle strain will occur at high-speed when your muscles are overloaded. The most common high-speed muscle injuries occur in your hamstrings (hamstring strain), quadriceps (thigh strain), calf (calf muscle tear), back (back muscle pain), groin strain. But, obviously, any muscle in your body is susceptible to a muscle strain or tear.

You can also suffer a fatigue-related muscle strain from sustained postures. Back muscle strain, shoulder and neck muscle strains are often postural fatigue-related muscle strains. Text neck has become a common condition due to postural fatigue while overusing your phone.

Another common source of myalgia can be related to excessive muscle microtrauma from an overdose of exercise. This condition is known as DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. Other overuse injuries such as RSI - repetitive strain injury, results from a combination of postural fatigue and overuse of the smaller upper limb muscles. Luckily, early assessment and prevention strategies have virtually eliminated RSI from offices in the western world.

What are the Characteristics of a Muscle Strain?

Muscle strains have the following symptoms:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Bruising
  • Weakness
  • Inability to fully stretch your injured muscle

The most severe the muscle strain obviously has more significant symptoms.

Muscle strains range from a mild muscle strain (grade one), moderate muscle strain (grade two) to a severe muscle strain or complete muscle rupture (grade three).

Muscle Strain Treatment

Muscle strain treatment will vary depending upon an accurate diagnosis from your health professional. The severity of your muscle strain, and what function or loads your injured muscle will need to cope with, will impact the length of your healing and rehabilitation process.

Until you’ve been accurately diagnosed with a muscle strain, use the following guidelines:

  • Ice and a compression bandage.
  • Elevate the injured region if it is swollen.
  • If it’s painful to walk you should be using crutches.
  • Cease or reduce your exercise or activity level to where you feel no pain.
Muscle strain can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to rehabilitate successfully. Please seek the advice of your physiotherapist, doctor or your health care practitioner who specialises in muscle injuries eg massage therapist, to guide your treatment.

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How to Return to Sport/Work after a Muscle Strain

Returning to a sport or work can be easy or complicated depending on the muscle affected and the demands of your sport or work. Some muscle tears such as hamstring, thigh, groin and calf tears are notorious at re-tearing once you resume sport. The professional advice of your sports physiotherapist is highly recommended.

Likewise, if your work involves lifting or fatigue postures, your healthcare professional will be able to assess you and advise you when you are at a lower risk to return to work or provide you with the appropriate exercise program to build your strength and ability to cope with your work duties.

Ideally, you should undertake:

  • a physiotherapist assessment of your muscle function, core stability and biomechanics to avoid injury recurrence.
  • a remedial or sports style massage to ensure that any scar tissue doesn’t clump.
  • a muscle rehabilitation program that incorporates components of strength, endurance, flexibility and speed that is specific to your chosen sport.
  • a neural tissue dynamics assessment to ensure that no nerve tissue has become entrapped in the scar tissue.
  • application of a heat retainer to the area when you return to sport.
  • application ice therapy after any training sessions.

If you suffer a muscle strain which fails to respond after a few days or continues to niggle, please contact your physiotherapist.

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Related Muscle Pain Injuries

Myalgia, or muscle pain, can have many sources. Here are some of the more common sources of your muscle pain. Please click the links for more information.

Muscle Strains

Neck & Back Sources:

Leg Sources:

Upper Limb Sources:

Haematoma-related Myalgia

Fatigue-related Myalgia

Systemic Causes of Myalgia

More Information: Myalgia

muscle strain

Common Treatments for Muscle Strain

The following options are available to your physiotherapist to assist the rehabilitation of your muscle strain. Please seek their professional advice prior to self-managing your injury to avoid aggravating your muscle strain. These are general guidelines only and should not be treated as individual treatment advice.

Acute Muscle Strain Treatment

Subacute Muscle Strain Treatment

Later Stage Muscle Strain Treatment Options

Other Factors to Consider

General Information


Massage Techniques

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FAQs about Muscle Strain & Muscle Pain

  • Common Physiotherapy Treatment Techniques
  • What is Pain?
  • Physiotherapy & Exercise
  • Which PhysioWorks Clinics Offer Remedial Massage?
  • How Does Massage Help You?
  • Massage Styles and their Benefits
  • What Causes Post-Exercise Muscular Pain?
  • Can Kinesiology Taping Reduce Your Swelling and Bruising?
  • Heat Packs. Why Does Heat Feel So Good?
  • Post-Run Soreness: Should You Be Concerned?
  • Rotator Cuff: What is it?
  • Running Recovery: 6 Helpful Tips
  • Sports Injury? What to do? When?
  • What are Common Adolescent / Children Leg Injuries?
  • What are the Common Massage Therapy Techniques?
  • What are the Early Warning Signs of an Injury?
  • What is a TENS Machine?
  • What is Chronic Pain?
  • What is Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy?
  • What is Nerve Pain?
  • What is Sports Physiotherapy?
  • What to expect when you visit PhysioWorks?
  • What's the Benefit of Stretching Exercises?
  • When is the Best Time for a Pre-Event Massage?
  • When is the Best Time for Your Post-Event Recovery Massage?
  • Why Kinesiology Tape Helps Reduce Swelling and Bruising Quicker
  • Helpful Products for Muscle Strain

    Muscle Tears

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    Last updated 19-Jan-2018 09:22 AM

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