How to recover from a muscle strain fast

Muscle strain concept

Muscle strain: When the muscle contracts sharply or excessively stretches during exercise, when the muscle structure is subjected to a force that exceeds its own structural strength, there will be structural damage, resulting in damage, tearing, or even complete rupture of the muscle structure. Injuries are collectively referred to as muscle strains.

Common causes of muscle strains

1. The training method is wrong

Insufficient training level, poor muscle elasticity and strength; wrong technical movements or inattention during exercise, excessive or rough movements; excessive training or sudden increase in training intensity, which is easy to exceed the load capacity of muscles and cause muscle fatigue, strength Reduced, poor coordination, these factors are easy to lead to muscle strain.

2. Uneven muscle strength

When two closely located muscles work at the same time, the weaker muscle is more prone to muscle strain. For example, if the quadriceps on the front of the thigh is stronger than the hamstrings on the back of the thigh, the hamstrings are more prone to strain.

3. Excessive muscle tension

During exercise, due to improper preparation, the physiological function of a certain part of the muscle has not yet reached the state required to adapt to the exercise; the temperature is too low and the humidity is too high; or when the arena is too tense, muscle strain is also prone to occur.

4. Excessive stretching

Appropriate stretching of muscles can increase limb flexibility, while relaxing and relieving fatigue, but excessive stretching may lead to muscle strain and even the possibility of muscle fiber rupture. Especially after a marathon, it is recommended to continue walking or jogging for 5-10 minutes, doing gentle stretching massage and ice packs.

5. Bad venue equipment

Poor quality of the venue or equipment, etc., may also cause muscle strain. 

Types of muscle strains

1. Muscle injury: The shape of muscle cells is slender and fibrous, so muscle cells are usually called muscle fibers. Muscle smashing is when an object is crushed to the point of injuring the muscle.

2. Muscle contusion:  Non-open injury occurs by the direct action of blunt objects on the soft tissues of the body.

3. Muscle tearing:  It is prone to occur during long kicks, pull-ups and sit-ups. After muscle strain, severe pain at the strained site, cord-like lumps formed by muscle tension can be felt with hands, obvious pain to the touch, local swelling or subcutaneous hemorrhage, and significantly restricted activities.

Mechanism of muscle strain

Muscle strains can be divided into active strains and passive strains.

1. When the muscle performs active and violent contraction, its force exceeds the ability of the muscle itself, which can cause active strain;

2. When the muscle is stretched hard, it exceeds the unique stretching degree of the muscle itself, and the strain caused is passive strain.

Common muscle strains

Commonly injured muscles include: hamstrings on the back of the thigh, quadriceps on the front of the thigh, triceps on the back of the calf, peroneus longus brevis on the front of the calf, pectoralis major, iliopsoas, and hamstring strain Most common.

1. Quadriceps: The rectus femoris is the only muscle in the quadriceps that spans two joints, and it is also the most commonly strained muscle in the quadriceps. Often when jumping or kicking, a sudden eccentric contraction causes a strain, and the person with the strain may feel a tear in the front of the thigh and local swelling and tenderness.

2. Hamstrings: This group of muscles (that is, the semitendinosus and biceps femoris) also spans two joints. When running fast and kicking vigorously, the calf is prone to eccentric strain when decelerating. Sprinters, football players, and those with tighter joints may all have three hamstring injuries, and the biceps femoris is the most common.

3. Gastrocnemius muscle : Strain or rupture mostly occurs in the medial head, and the exerciser will feel the calf “snap” or as if being hit by someone.

4. Adductor muscle group: In football, the adductor brevis, gracilis, sartorius and iliopsoas are often strained due to forced adduction, and a lump can be felt on the inner side of the upper thigh.

In these easy-to-pull muscles, they often contain a large number of type II muscle fibers (white muscle fibers) , and most of them span two or more joints, so the injury site is mainly concentrated at the tendon-ventral junction.

location of muscle strain

Because the muscle is divided into two parts, the muscle belly and the tendon , generally speaking, the muscle strain refers to the pull of the muscle belly.

If the strain is in the bone, the tendon pulls off part of the bone where the tendon is attached, a condition called an avulsion fracture .

If the strain occurs in the tendon, the condition is called a tendon strain .

A muscle strain can only be called when a muscle part is strained .

Clinical manifestations of muscle strain

Muscle strain is mainly manifested as muscle pain, bruising or swelling of the skin, and significantly limited movement of the site. Typical symptoms may include:

sudden onset of muscle soreness

Restricted movement of the injured area

bruising or discoloration of the skin

local swelling

rigid muscles

muscle spasms

muscle and tendon weakness

Increased pain when standing, walking, or twisting

pain radiating to the leg, buttock, or thigh area

It should be noted that in the case of mild strains, the strained area may feel a little stiff, but it can still maintain sufficient elasticity. In the case of a severe muscle strain, a severe muscle tear can cause severe pain and even inability to move.

Grading of muscle strains

Muscle strains can be divided into three grades according to the degree of injury:

Grade 1: Mild, insignificant muscle fiber damage.

Grade 2: Moderate, partial muscle rupture.

Grade 3: Severe, complete muscle rupture .

Muscle strain treatment principles

Injuries are not terrible. When a strain occurs, you should know how to deal with it quickly, shorten the recovery time, and seek medical attention in time when necessary. Emergency treatment needs to follow the RICE principle, namely Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Rest – “R” means Rest

When a stretch occurs, the activity that caused the muscle strain should be stopped immediately. A pulled muscle is a rupture of the muscle fibers, and if you continue to exert further force, the muscle will tear and expand, eventually leading to more serious injuries.

It should be noted that pain is a signal to rest. If a muscle strain occurs during exercise or other activities, severe pain will force people to stop. The best way to deal with this is to stop and rest and stop continuing activities.

Ice – “I” means Ice

Ice packs can reduce swelling and reduce pain. Wrap ice cubes, ice packs, or a bag of frozen beans in a thin cloth and apply to the painful, swollen area for 15 to 20 minutes, repeating every 2 to 3 hours. Ice compresses can reduce swelling and subcutaneous hemorrhage after acute sprains, while also slowing the conduction of pain nerves, resulting in effective pain relief and shortening recovery time.

Be aware that hot compresses at this point are of no use in removing the redness and swelling from the strain.

Bandage – “C” for Compression

That is, pressure dressing is applied to the wound. This is one of the most important parts of first aid treatment.

After the ice compress, the affected area should be wrapped with elastic bandage in time to control the injured area and avoid re-injury, and at the same time, it can effectively reduce the swelling and bleeding of the injured area. Apply some pain reliever if needed.

Bandaging time : At the same time, the bandaging will be removed after 24 hours, and the treatment will be carried out depending on the injury. Early massage and physiotherapy should not be used, which will increase bleeding and tissue exudation and increase swelling.

Note: Avoid repeating the injury within three days after the injury, and you can perform functional exercises three days later. After a week, you can gradually resume exercising, but stretch to an extent that does not cause pain in the injured area. The bandage should be wrapped from the farthest limb of the centrifuge. It is not advisable to wrap the bandage too tightly, otherwise it will hinder the blood circulation.

Elevate the injured area – “E” means Elevation

Elevating the injured area above the heart helps to promote the return of blood and tissue fluids and reduce swelling. , to fully relax.

It should be noted that if the upper limb muscles are strained, you can try to use a sling to suspend the upper limbs.

Especially when sleeping at night, you can use a quilt or a pillow to raise your feet and raise your limbs. This method has the effects of hemostasis, analgesia, and anti-swelling.

Take pain medication if necessary

Small amounts of pain relievers, such as aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, can be taken to relieve pain when necessary.

It should be noted that there is no absolute best, fastest and most effective medication. Please follow the doctor’s advice. Children should not take aspirin.

After muscle strain, massage, safflower oil, or applying blood-activating plaster are completely wrong!

Treatment of different degrees of muscle strain

Grade 1 muscle strain (mild)

Symptoms: Only a few muscle fibers are elongated and torn, while the surrounding fascia is intact. Pain while exercising, but still able to exercise.

Treatment: cold compress + elastic bandage. Apply cold compresses immediately after minor strains, and wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage to prevent swelling. After about 2 to 3 days, you can apply a hot compress and start exercising.

Grade 2 muscle strain (moderate)

Performance: A large number of muscle fibers are broken, the fascia may also be torn, and the exerciser may feel the feeling of “pop”. A slight loss and depression of the muscle-tendon junction is often palpable. There may be a hematoma.

Treatment: cold compress + elastic bandage. Return to normal exercise after about 3-4 weeks.

Grade 3 muscle strain (severe)

Performance: The muscle is completely torn. Basically no longer active. Severe pain occurs first after injury, but the pain subsides quickly because nerve fibers are also damaged at this time, which usually requires surgical treatment.

Treatment: ice compress + elastic bandage + immediately send to hospital for treatment.

Muscle strain not getting better, when to seek medical attention

Symptoms of infection such as itching, redness and swelling of the skin

Bite marks on sore areas

Numbness or poor blood flow to the painful area

severe muscle weakness

shortness of breath


high fever

stiff neck

A strained muscle recovers within a few days with emergency treatment in the acute phase. If the severe pain does not improve, you need to see a doctor. The persistent pain means that the injury is serious. Doctors will check the extent of the injury through creatine kinase, ultrasound, magnetic resonance, etc. Severe cases may require surgery. Sometimes muscle strains are not necessarily caused by exercise. If the following conditions occur at the same time, you need to seek medical attention immediately:


1. When exercising, pay attention to choosing a good venue and climatic conditions.

2. Choose suitable equipment and wear appropriate clothing.

3. Be sure to take some time to fully warm up before exercising. After exercising, you also need to do sufficient stretching exercises to prevent excessive muscle tension.

4. After the activity, it is also necessary to do sufficient stretching exercises to prevent excessive muscle tension.

5. Appropriate strength training can strengthen the core muscles and strengthen the flexibility of the muscles.

6. It is also important to stay hydrated. Dehydration will also increase the possibility of muscle tension. Make sure to drink at least 8 to 11 glasses of water every day.

7. Know how to stop, make a reasonable exercise plan, understand your own limitations, and stop immediately when you feel pain.