This week I wanted to share the relationship
that massage has with muscle health.
Muscle strain, muscle pull or even a muscle tear implies damage to a muscle or
its attaching tendons. You can put undue pressure on muscles during the course
of normal daily activities, with sudden heavy lifting, during sports, or while
performing work tasks.
Muscle damage can be in the form of tearing (part or all) of the muscle fibres
and the tendons attached to the muscle. The tearing of the muscle can also
damage small blood vessels, causing local bleeding (bruising) and pain (caused
by irritation of the nerve endings in the area). Depending on their severity, muscle strains are
categorised into Grades 1, 2 or 3:
GRADE 1 STRAIN
There is damage to individual muscle fibres (less than 5% of fibres). This is a
mild strain which requires 2 to 3 weeks rest.
GRADE 2 STRAIN
There is more extensive damage, with more muscle fibres involved, but the
muscle is not completely ruptured. The rest period required is usually between
3 and 6 weeks.
GRADE 3 STRAIN
This is a complete rupture of a muscle. In a sports person this will usually
require surgery to repair the muscle. The rehabilitation time is around 3
Muscle Strain Symptoms
Swelling, bruising or redness, or open cuts due to the injury
Pain at rest
Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
Weakness of the muscle or tendons (a sprain, in contrast, is an injury to a
joint and its ligaments.)
Inability to use the muscle at all
Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin or ibuprofen
to reduce pain and improve your ability to move around. Do not take NSAIDS if
you have kidney disease, a history of gastrointestinal bleeding, or are also
taking a blood thinner (such as Warfarin) without first talking with your
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation (First Aid acronym, RICE)
can help the affected muscle. Remove all constrictive clothing, including jewellery,
in the area of muscle strain. Then:
Rest the strained muscle. Avoid the activities that caused the strain and other
activities that are painful.
Ice the muscle area (20 minutes every hour while awake). Ice is a very
effective anti-inflammatory and pain-reliever. Small ice packs, such as
packages of frozen vegetables or water frozen in foam coffee cups, applied to
the area may help decrease inflammation.
Compression can be a gently applied with an elastic bandage, which can provide both
support and decrease swelling. Do not wrap tightly.
Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling. Prop up a strained leg muscle
while sitting, for example.
Activities that increase muscle pain or work the affected body part are not
recommended until the pain has significantly improved.
The doctor or
physiotherapist can determine the extent of muscle and tendon
injury and if crutches or a brace is necessary for healing. They can also
determine if you need to restrict your activity, take days off work, and if
rehabilitation exercises or physical therapy are required to help you recover.
Avoid injury by stretching daily.
Remedial Massage is indicated after the
swelling has gone down, usually 72hrs. Different techniques will be utilised
throughout the duration of your rehabilitation plan to reduce the risk of
scarring forming within the injured muscle and to restore the original range of
Incorporate stretching after you exercise.
Establish a warm-up routine prior to strenuous exercise, such as gently running
in place for a couple of minutes.
Start an exercise program in consultation with your doctor/physiotherapist.
In most cases, with proper treatment, most people recover completely from
muscle strain. More complicated cases should be handled by a doctor/physiotherapist.