Muscle Pain & Injury

Muscle Pain & Injury

Article by H.Giebeler, N.Stewart

Muscle Pain

No matter how you describe it –  “pulled muscle”, “muscle strain”, “muscle injury” or “muscle tear” the end result is an injury to your muscle resulting in muscle painmuscle weakness and reduced muscle performance. These common muscle strains and their general treatment will be discussed shortly.

Other common causes of sports-related muscle pain include muscle contusions such as a corked thigh or an overtraining condition such as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or muscle cramps.

You should also be aware that not all muscle pain is injury-related and can be due to systemic conditions such as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. Please consult with your trusted healthcare practitioner for a thorough assessment and diagnosis of your muscle pain.

How to Care for Your Muscle Pain?

Muscle pain can be caused by any strain, injury or tear. The most common is the high speed and load muscles such as your hamstrings, thigh (quadriceps), calf, back and biceps.

More info:

Muscle tears can range from a mild strain (Grade 1), moderate strain (Grade 2) to a complete rupture (Grade 3). Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your muscle strain, tear or rupture.

Grade 1 muscle strains will usually respond well to conservative treatment including protection and active rest with a gradual introduction to flexibility, strength, power and speed exercise depending upon the functional needs of the injured muscle. Massage therapy and dry needling are other treatment options available.

Grade 2 muscle tears may require some professional assistance from a sports physiotherapist or other healthcare practitioner with a special interest in muscle injuries.  Grade two injuries are more likely to have scarring, inflexibility and reduce strength and performance. They are generally a higher risk of re-injury on your return to sport or work, so professionally guided rehabilitation is advised.

Grade 3 muscle rupture often require surgery. Please consult with a healthcare practitioner for more advice. Most muscle rupture repairs will require a very gradual and progressed rehabilitation program under the guidance of your surgeon and your physiotherapist.

Symptoms of a Muscle Strain

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

What’s the Best Treatment for a Muscle Strain or Tear?

Until you’ve been accurately diagnosed, use the following guidelines:

  • Ice and a compression bandage.
  • Elevate the region if it is swollen.
  • If it’s painful to walk you should be using crutches.
  • Reduce your training to a level where you feel no pain. That may include stopping all exercise.
  • Seek the advice of your physiotherapist, massage therapist or your trusted healthcare practitioner.

Return to Sports Post-Muscle Strain

Returning to a sport can be easy or complicated depending on the muscle affected. Some muscle tears such as hamstrings are notoriously difficult to get right.

Ideally, you should undertake:

  • an 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.

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 By Region

Neck & Back:



Haematoma-related Myalgia

Fatigue-related Myalgia

Systemic Causes of Myalgia

More Information: Myalgia

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.

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