Muscle strains are a very common orthopedic injury. A muscle strain AKA a “pulled muscle” happens when a muscle is overstretched or torn. This can occur due to overuse, excessive muscular contraction, fatigue, etc. Muscles that are commonly “pulled” include hamstrings, calves, quads, and low back muscles.
So should I stretch it?
After straining a muscle, many people immediately feel the need to begin stretching that area. Incidentally, this is the wrong way to help the muscle heal initially. Stretching a strained muscle (or aggressively foam rolling it) further pulls the muscle fibers apart and makes it much harder for them to heal back together.
So if I can't stretch it, what should I do?
Healing times for strained muscles depend highly on the severity of the injury but below are some average healing times to consider:
If you believe you may have strained a muscle, a PT can further evaluate you and personalize a rehabilitation program!
Bob Cranny, PT