Avoid the HARM Factors

Avoid the HARM Factors

Article by J. MillerS.Armfield

Avoid HARM Post-Injury

You will help your chances of a full recovery if you avoid the H.A.R.M. factors in the first 48 to 72 hours.

What are the HARM Factors?

Heat: Increases swelling and bleeding. Avoid heat packs, hot baths and saunas.

Alcohol: Increases swelling and bleeding. Plus, it can delay healing.

Running or Exercise: Aggravates the injury, which increases pain, swelling and bleeding. Always check with a health professional before resume sport or exercise.

Massage: Increases swelling and bleeding. Direct massage to the injured area may aggravate the damaged tissues and is normally best avoided for the first 48 to 72 hours. Indirect massage (away from the injury site) may be helpful. Please consult your health practitioner for the best advice for your injury.

What Are Common Muscle Injuries?

Myalgia, or muscle pain, can have many sources. Here are some of the more common sources of muscle pain. Would you please click the links for more information?

Neck & Back Muscle Injuries

Lower Limb Muscle Injuries

Upper Limb Muscle Injuries

Haematoma-Related Myalgia

Fatigue-Related Myalgia

Systemic Causes of Myalgia

More Information: Myalgia

Common Muscle Injury FAQs

What are the 4 Types of Muscle Injuries?

How Long Does It Take For A Muscle Injury To Heal?

What Helps Muscle Strains Heal Faster?

How Can I Speed Up Muscle Recovery?

What is a Trigger Point In A Muscle?

Article by John Miller

How Long Does It Take For A Muscle Injury To Heal?

The recovery time for a muscle injury depends on the severity of the damage. For a mild strain, you may be able to return to normal activities within a few days or a week. For more severe strains, recovery can take several weeks and even months. In nasty cases, surgical repair and post-operative physiotherapy may be necessary.

With professional assessment and the treatment guidance of your physiotherapist, most muscle injuries recover entirely.

To avoid re-injury, please ensure that you have adequately rehabilitated your body for a return to sport or work. Follow your physiotherapist’s specific instructions. Don’t engage in high-risk physical activity until your muscles have healed and strengthened appropriately.

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

Article by John Miller

What Are The Muscle Injury Types?

We categorise your muscles into three main types: skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscles

  • Skeletal muscle is the most common muscle tissue type in the body. Plus, it is prone to injury. Skeletal muscles facilitate your body's movement and strength. The 4 types of skeletal muscle injuries include:
    • Muscle Strain/Soreness
    • Muscle Tear/Rupture
    • Muscle Contusion (Haematoma)
    • Rhabdomyolysis
  • Cardiac muscle forms your heart muscle walls.
  • Smooth muscle tissue is in the walls of hollow organs like the bladder, passageways like the airway and gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Muscle Strain/Soreness

Muscle strains result in small or microscopic muscle fibre tears. We commonly refer to a muscle strain as a "pulled" muscle. This injury occurs when the muscle is mildly overstretched, or overused. Common muscle strain injuries include the hamstring, shoulder, neck and lower back.

Muscle strains result in muscle soreness, stiffness, weakness, swelling and spasms. They usually heal over a few days. Ice, anti-inflammatory medications, massage and gentle stretching may help the muscle injury heal faster.

Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is post-exercise-related muscle pain. DOMS develops after excessive and unaccustomed exercise. It is particularly prevalent if that exercise has an eccentric component. DOMS is myofibril tears (muscle strains). The microtrauma results in an inflammatory response with intramuscular fluid and electrolyte shifts.

We do know that biochemical markers (such as creatine kinase and lactic dehydrogenase) are in the blood of DOMS sufferers, which is consistent with muscle fibre disruption.

Swelling, altered muscle firing patterns and pain are the reasons why muscle strength, motions and function is impaired in DOMS sufferers.

Muscle Tear / Rupture

While a muscle strain refers to a microscopic injury to muscle fibres, a muscle tear is a more significant macroscopic injury. We can normally visualise the damaged fibres on an ultrasound scan or MRI. Much like muscle strains, the most common muscle tears occur in the lower back, neck, shoulder, and hamstring. It typically takes a substantial amount of force to cause this type of injury. Muscle fibres and the blood vessels that supply it tear.

Muscle tears usually cause a sudden onset of severe muscle pain, as well as bruising, weakness and swelling. Muscle tear sufferers should seek urgent medical attention to confirm the diagnosis and undertake a physiotherapist-guided rehabilitation to return to sport or work quicker, plus reduce the likelihood of reinjury. Patients with a torn muscle also often require follow-up care and rehabilitation with physical therapy.

The most severe extreme of a muscle tear is a complete rupture. Complete muscle rupture usually requires surgical repair and post-operative physiotherapy to optimise your return to function.

Muscle Contusion (Haematoma)

Muscle contusion may also be referred to as a muscle "haematoma". This injury occurs when a blunt object strikes the body and crushes underlying muscle tissue but does not break the skin. Common examples include being hit with a ball or being accidentally kneed e.g. "corked thigh". Contusions are typically painful, swollen, weak and result in a reduced range of motion, as a protection mechanism. Visible bruising is from damaged blood vessels that pools underneath the skin's surface.

While most mild contusion injuries often heal with ice, rest and time, more severe injuries sometimes require surgical intervention to address excessive pressure accumulated from internal swelling and bleeding.


Rhabdomyolysis is a severe condition when muscle fibres die and their contents release into your bloodstream. Your kidneys normally filter out these muscle byproducts. However, in rhabdomyolysis kidney failure can result and be fatal. Urgent medical attention is required.

Muscle pain, weakness and dark urine are the common symptoms of rhabdomyolysis.

Causes of rhabdomyolysis may be traumatic or non-traumatic. Examples of traumatic rhabdomyolysis include car accidents, crush injuries or lying unconscious on a hard surface for an extended period. Causes of non-traumatic muscle injury include heatstroke, infections, intense exercise, seizures, and the use of certain recreational drugs like cocaine and amphetamines.

If you have any of the symptoms please seek urgent medical assessment.

Article by John Miller

What Helps Muscle Strains Heal Faster?

Muscle Strain Treatment

Muscle strain treatment will vary depending on your health professional's accurate diagnosis. 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 swells.
  • 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 a few days to several weeks to rehabilitate successfully. Please seek the advice of your physiotherapist, doctor, or health care practitioner who specialises in muscle injuries, e.g. massage therapist, to guide your treatment.

Common Treatments for Muscle Strain

Many treatment options are available to your physiotherapist to assist the rehabilitation of your muscle strain. Please seek their professional advice.

Acute Muscle Strain Treatment

Subacute Muscle Strain Treatment

Later Stage Muscle Strain Treatment Options

Other Factors to Consider

General Information

Massage Techniques

Article by John Miller

There are a plethora of muscle recovery options available. Which ones are scientifically proven to speed up muscle recovery?

Ice Bath

Post-exercise ice baths are among the most studied muscle recovery methods because of their popularity and simplicity. Super-cold temperatures reduce the swelling and pain associated with muscle damage. Any large bucket of water or a cold bath with crushed ice bags thrown in.

Does an ice bath work to reduce pain?

Some studies show it does and some it doesn’t. On the whole, ice baths seem to reduce associated pain, but the results can vary.

It could be okay to use if an ice bath does give you pain relief. Some benefits to a post-workout ice bath are during specific training phases. Post-marathon or following a competitive game would be great to test out the ice bath method.

However, it’s probably not ideal for taking an ice bath in preparation for an upcoming intense training workout or a competition. For that, the research suggests that reduced muscle temperatures hamper your performance. Warmer muscles always feel loser and stronger. In short, they perform better, which is why we warm up in the first place.

Compression Garments

Compression garments create physical pressure. The pressure limits blood pooling and assists blood flow through the veins to reduce swelling. Studies show they work for people with circulation issues and healthy subjects needing to recover.

In athletes, the increased blood flow increases the clearance of blood lactate and creatine kinase. Muscles and bloodstream release these byproducts after vigorous exercise and signal muscle damage.

A 2020 review looked at 21 studies that examined the effects of compression tights and found that wearing the compression garments improved performance in a few studies. They concluded that compression socks could help with perceived muscle soreness during recovery.

Recovery Massage

There’s a lot of mixed evidence over recovery massages, which work to reduce the tension of the muscle’s fascia. On the whole, they probably do help. That’s why professional sports teams use them weekly.

Foam Rollers

Foam rollers work by inducing self-myofascial release when the layer of tissue that sits on the outside of a muscle loosens up. This tissue release improves the range of motion around a joint and reduces DOMS.


Researchers have found convincing evidence that static stretching isn’t that helpful in warming up your muscles. Dynamic stretching is far better, which involves moving and engaging more than one muscle in a contract and relax cycle.

Dynamic stretching increases muscle blood flow and generates heat. Muscle warmth is crucial to athletic performance. Static stretches help increase the range of motion at the joints that connect muscles. They are also probably best done after your workout or game.

Stretching is helpful, but remember dynamic stretching before and static stretching afterwards.

Pain Relieving Drugs

There’s more hard evidence on pain-relieving drugs than other recovery techniques. While non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), e.g. aspirin and ibuprofen, work well at minimising pain, they come at a potential cost. Studies show that they significantly inhibit the natural recovery process of muscles. Some research suggests that NSAIDs inhibit the proliferation of a group of muscle stem cells known as satellite cells, which play a crucial role in muscle repair. So if you can handle the pain, it’s probably best to use more non-chemical or natural modalities. However, there’s a place for them. Suppose there is an intolerable amount of pain since you still need to be mobile. In that case, the benefits likely outweigh the costs but understanding that it may hinder the recovery process.


Most people don’t get enough sleep. Average adults need about eight hours. Endurance and full-time professional athletes probably need to increase closer to nine or ten hours.

Researchers haven’t pieced apart the exact mechanisms through which muscle recovery occurs. Still, they know that sleep plays a critical role in the health of every organ system in the body. Sleeping is also very cheap, so give it a try to see how it affects your muscle recovery.