In the early stages of treating a strained muscle there are a few things you should do to minimize damage and speed the healing process.
TIP #1 Early on, relative rest is key
In the time after a strain, you should:
- rest the muscle to ensure the small muscle fibers that have been damaged have time to heal properly
- not stretch in the early stages
- use heat or ice for pain management
- avoid any painful activities such as the one that originally caused the injury
After a comprehensive assessment a physiotherapist can guide you by appropriately increasing your activities in order to avoid re-injury. Arbutus Physiotherapy may also use treatments such as shockwave therapy and manual therapy to reduce healing time.
TIP #2 Protect the strained area
Protection is sometimes necessary. The challenge of having an injury is that we still need to use the injured area with everyday life. This sometimes doesn’t allow our injury to heal so that’s when we use splinting or braces. Hand strains, for instance, can take a long time to heal since it is hard to rest this area of the body. Arbutus Physiotherapy will tape or brace just the strained area so that you can keep moving while your body heals. We will also advise when this can be discontinued to allow you to progress beyond the acute stage.
TIP #3 Move early to restore normal function
Move Early to Restore Normal Function. Strained structures need to be strengthened while balance and dexterity are improved, so early and limited movement is extremely important.
As you heal, practice skills as simple as holding chopsticks or changing direction quickly on a soccer field. Small and simple changes to your movements, combined with adequate muscle strength, can prevent muscle strains in the long run. Arbutus Physiotherapy will educate you on how to prevent re-injury and guide you along the path back to your active lifestyle.
TIP #4 Differentiate mild and severe strains
Not all strains are equal. The local area of a muscle strain is painful, swollen, red and bruised and the muscle may be weak and painful to use.
Treatments for strains are individualized, based on the mechanism of injury, the degree of strain, the specific muscle at fault and the functional goals of the individual. Arbutus Physiotherapy will help you differentiate between a mild muscle strain that can be treated conservatively, versus a severe strain such as a complete tear that may require further medical attention.
And we will correct any biomechanical issues and create an individualized exercise plan, including stretching and strengthening at the appropriate time intervals.