A muscle strain is the result of an overstretching of the muscle. Cause is often a sudden overload. In principle, you can tug any skeletal muscle. Especially often a muscle strain affects the back, thigh and calf muscles. Read here all important information on the topic: How does a strain develop? What symptoms does it trigger? How is she diagnosed? And: What to do in case of muscle strain?
Muscle Strain: Description
What is a strain? This refers to the muscle strain, it is one of the most common sports injuries. But even in everyday life it can happen that a muscle is torn by an unnatural movement or an acute overload.
From muscle strain to muscle tear
Muscle strain is the lightest form of muscle overload. An even stronger strain usually causes individual muscle fibers to rupture (torn muscle fibers). This can also happen if you do not pay attention to a muscle strain and continue training despite injury.
Even more pronounced is the injury in a muscle tear. It tears a whole muscle fiber bundle. In extreme cases, the entire muscle is completely severed, it is called a muscle tear.
Muscle Strain: Symptoms
A muscle strain manifests itself in pulling, spasmodic pain, which usually develop slowly and gradually become stronger. The (athletic) activity usually can not be continued. Stretching and tensing the strained muscle hurts. The affected muscle area feels painfully tense – a feeling that can not be dispelled by shaking, gentle massaging or loosening movements.
Muscle Strain: Causes and Risk Factors
A muscle strain is done by overstretching the muscle. This can happen, for example, in unnatural movements or sudden excessive stress. Often, such strain affects the thighs, sometimes the back muscles. Also, the feeling of a strain in the calf know many, especially athletes.
Various factors favor a muscle strain or other muscle injury. These include, for example, lack of warm-up before exercise, an overload of already tired muscles, inadequate training condition, lack of fitness or incorrect footwear.
No tissue damage
In a muscle strain, the muscle was overstretched, so stretched beyond the limit of its elasticity. But that did not cause any tissue damage. On the other hand, if overstretching leads to the rupture of individual muscle fibers (often associated with a hemorrhage into the tissue), a torn muscle fiber is present.
Muscle strain: examinations and diagnosis
If you suspect a muscle injury (such as straining), the doctor first asks about the symptoms and the injury mechanism. Possible questions are:
- How did the injury happen?
- Where exactly are you in pain?
- Do you have any other complaints?
Following is the physical examination. The doctor scans the injured body region. He checks the muscle hardness and whether the area is painful. He also tests whether stretching or straining the muscle causes pain and muscle strength is reduced.
Muscle strain: treatment
A muscle strain is treated conservatively. When asked: “Muscle strain – cool or warm?” One should follow the first aid measures according to the PECH scheme:
- Pause: Cancel sporting activity and spare muscle
- Ice: cool the injured area for at least 20 minutes (with ice pack or a cold envelope, for example)
- Compression: apply elastic pressure bandage
- Elevating an injured limb
After the acute phase, as soon as the cooling eases the pain and the increased muscle tension subsides, one can move the pulled muscle again carefully. Gentle, light stretching exercises are recommended, with the stretching being held for six to eight minutes (ie, no short rocking movements).
Especially with professional athletes a muscle strain is often treated even further, such as lymphatic drainage, electrotherapy, tape bandages or massage.
Muscle strain: disease progression and prognosis
In a strain, it is important that one interrupts the sporting activity and protects the affected muscle. If you ignore the strain and keep on training – which, for example, some runners do in a calf strain – the overloaded muscle fibers can break. Such a hamstring has a much longer healing time than a simple strain.
Muscle strain: duration
A muscle strain generally heals easily. Within about four to six days, the muscle usually recovers, so that you can start again with light training.