“Can you just give me a little rub please.” That’s what my kids ask me, each and every night. They put their feet on my lap and just kinda expect a gentle rub. And I’m sure it’s a common household request.
But there is quite a difference between a rub for tight muscles and an actual muscle strain or tear. In clinic, we get asked about this each and every day. So a muscle spasm or strain, or even a torn muscle results in significant muscle injury. The end result is localised inflammation, reduced range of movement, potentially resulting in pain, weakness and reduced muscle performance.
Muscle Strain Symptoms?
You can suspect a muscle strain or injury if you experience:
- muscle tightness
- inability to fully stretch your injured muscle.
Muscle Strain Treatment – to ice or heat?
In clinic, the most common muscle strains we see, involve the lower back and neck regions. It might have been caused by lifting an awkward load (not necessarily heavy), a prolonged awkward posture, falling from a horse or motorbike, or newbies to exercise.
Treatment options vary depending on the severity of your strain or tear, however the old RICE strategy (Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate) immediately post injury, can decrease the severity of symptoms.
Some trains of thought, also suggest using heat applications. In my experience, a mixture of both is best in most situations. Start with a cold pack, then a heat pack and continue to alternate in the one sitting, ensuring you finish with heat.
Of course, some injuries will need further investigation or imaging.
I would suggest, to fully resolve the injury however, seek advice from your Soft Tissue Therapist or Massage Therapist early on, to avoid longstanding issues / scarring and decreased mobility / pain.
Early intervention is KEY!
Returning to sport or work, can be easy or complicated depending on the degree and area affected and how actively you approach your rehab. Some muscle strains such as lowerbacks are notoriously difficult to get right. Not to mention work postures that either keep you seated for long periods, or require sustained awkward postures. Almost any injury / strain will respond quicker with fewer complications, if the person seeks early intervention from a health professional. Early intervention is key to resuming life, pain free!
Ideally your Soft Tissue Therapist should:
- assess your range, muscle function and biomechanics to correctly identify the issue and then avoid injury recurrence.
- offer a remedial or sports style massage to ensure that any scar tissue doesn’t clump, often coupled with trigger point therapy to fully resolve any lingering issues.
- a muscle rehabilitation program that incorporates components of strength, endurance, flexibility and speed that is specific to your chosen sport.
If you suffer a muscle tear / strain, and those niggles don’t go away after a few days, please contact Scone Inspire Health for more specific advice.
Yours in health and happiness, Karen