Treating Injured Muscles

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Muscle injuries can happen to anyone for several reasons. These types of injuries can be very frustrating to deal with, not only because they’re painful but they can make your normal daily tasks a challenge for you. Pulled muscles can occur in any part of your body but are more common in your lower back, shoulders, neck, and your hamstring. Most muscle injuries heal within three to six weeks, and you should be able to resume regular activity at that point. During the healing phase, there are several things you can do to help make it more bearable. 

Types of Muscle Injuries 

There are four main types of skeletal muscle injuries, and they are muscle strain, muscle tear, muscle contusion, and rhabdomyolysis. Skeletal muscles are the most common types of muscles found in the human body and are most prone to injury. 

Muscle strain is often referred to as a pulled muscle and normally occurs when the muscle has been overused or overstretched. Any type of exercise, such as regular use of an elliptical, can lead to a pulled muscle if you don’t take the time to warm up or if you’re performing the exercise incorrectly. The most common areas for muscle strains are the lower back, shoulder, neck, and hamstring, and can cause weakness, swelling, muscle soreness, and stiffness. 

Muscle tears happen when damage occurs when there is a complete tear of fibers. A complete tear may need surgical intervention so the injury heals properly. You may notice swelling and bruising in the affected area with this type of injury. Recovery generally takes around three to six months. 

A muscle contusion, or bruise, occurs when underlying muscle fibers and connective tissue receive a direct blow by a blunt object without the skin breaking. A muscle contusion can happen for a variety of reasons, such as falling or bumping into something and usually takes about two to three weeks to heal. 

Rhabdomyolysis occurs when the muscles break down from injury, and this can be a life-threatening condition. Individuals such as military personnel, firefighters, and endurance athletes are more at risk of this condition, and it is caused by disease, trauma, toxic substances, or overexertion. Symptoms include swelling of the muscles, sore muscles, and dark urine. 

Consider Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy in Southington can help speed up the recovery period of a muscle injury. Not every muscle-related injury will benefit from physical therapy, but a lot will. This treatment can help because it helps you stretch out the muscle and strengthen the affected area and improve flexibility. Physical therapy is also a way to lower your risk of further aggravating your muscle injury because it can teach you how to move properly in ways that won’t make things worse. 

Rest as Much as Possible

With any kind of muscle injury, the first part of recovery is to rest it. Depending on the severity of the muscle injury, you may need to rest for around two days for mild and moderate injuries and up to 14 days for more severe ones. If the injury is to the lower part of your body, you may need to use crutches to get around easily. 

It may feel like a good idea to keep exercising and stretching the affected area, but that will only make the injury worse. You can definitely exercise other parts of your body but make sure you rest the affected area as much as possible so it can heal properly. 

Ice, Compression, and Elevation

Rest is the most common treatment for a pulled muscle, but ice, compression, and elevation are also recommended. The cold from the ice will help reduce the swelling and pain if applied right away. For the best results, try applying ice for 10 to 20 minutes three times a day or more. If the swelling goes away by day three, you can use heat on the area to help with pain, but avoid applying heat directly to your skin. 

Compression wraps are a good solution to decreasing swelling, and you can find them over the counter at most pharmacies. Elastic bandages are usually easy to apply yourself, but you want to avoid putting them on too tightly. If the compression wrap is too tight, the swelling can end up getting worse. You’ll know if it’s too tight because you may experience more pain, tingling, or numbness. 

After a muscle injury, elevation can reduce swelling and bruising because it makes it more difficult for the blood to reach the injury. Anytime you are resting your injury, you can have the affected area propped up on pillows for extra comfort. You should ideally try to elevate the area for two to three hours each day. 

Preventing Muscle Injuries 

Preventing muscle injuries can be done in various ways. The most common way to prevent a muscle injury is to warm up properly before a workout to prepare your body. A good warm will increase your body temperature, which will increase the blood flow to your muscles. A warm-up should take approximately five to 10 minutes, and you should make sure the major muscle groups get targeted. You can start slow and gradually pick up the pace for the best results. 

The weaker your muscles are, the more prone to injury they’ll be. Strength training will help your muscles become stronger and make them more resistant to muscle-related injuries. Strength training can do a lot more for your body than just prevent injuries. It can help you manage your weight and increase your metabolism, manage chronic conditions, enhance your quality of life, and improve bone health. If you’re new to strength training, it’s a good idea to start slow, and then you can gradually increase the weight over time when you’re ready. 

Another way to decrease the risk of a muscle-related injury is to cool down after a workout. A cool-down period can be similar to a warm-up, but you should do things at a slower pace and with reduced intensity for about five to ten minutes. Cooling down can help reduce soreness and reduce the recovery time after a workout. Slow walking, yoga, and static stretches are good options for cooling down.

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