How to Treat a Pulled Muscle or Strain

We have all heard someone say at one point or another that they have pulled a muscle, but do any of us really understand what a pulled muscle is.

A pulled muscle, also called a strain, is a very common sports injury that occurs when the muscle fiber has been over stretched and begins to tear. Sometimes bleeding will occur from the tears and a bruise will form over the sore area.

RICE Therapy for a Pulled Muscle

RICE is an acronym for Rest - Ice - Compression - Elevate. RICE therapy is a simple four step treatment that you can do yourself. It will help reduce swelling and support the injury for the first few days of sustaining the sprain or strain.

  • REST - For the first 24 to 48 hours, avoid putting any weight on the injury and rest as much as possible. Doing so will help prevent further bruising.
  • ICE - A pulled muscle is no different from any other sports injury in that ice is the best medicine for treating the injured area. Applying ice will help to reduce swelling and any pain you may be experiencing.
  • COMPRESSION - Wrapping the affected area with an elastic medical bandage supports the injury while also keeping it warm and loose. The support bandage also helps to prevent the possibility of further damage. These wraps are available at many pharmacies and sporting goods retailers.
  • ELEVATION - Raising the injured muscle above the level of your heart helps in reducing pain, throbbing, and any internal bleeding that can lead to bruises.
Recovering From a Pulled Muscle - IU Health

In the first couple of days, it is also best to avoid heat such as hot baths, showers and heat packs in order to prevent swelling.

How Long Does a Pulled Muscle Last

The only thing that can cure a pulled muscle is time. If you were to go to a sports medicine clinic they may be able to provide you with some treatments that will speed up the healing process, but there is no magic fix. The best thing you can do is to take it easy while the muscle tissue heals itself and make sure that you do not over exert it.

Pulled Muscle Exercise

When you are able to resume activity, always make sure that you take the time to stretch well and to warm up properly. Over-exerting cold muscles is often the cause of the pull in the first place. When you ask a muscle group to work hard without allowing it the time to establish the proper blood flow, you are asking for trouble.

After several days if you have not seen any improvement in your injury, you may have to seek professional treatment.

There is a good chance that you have underestimated the extent of your injury. If this is the case, you may have done more damage than you may have realized.

In some cases, the muscle can tear away from the bone and curl back up on itself. This type of injury is as painful as it sounds and it is not something easily overlooked. A severely torn and/or pulled muscle will require surgery and if this is what you have you should not wait to have the injury taken care of.