How to Treat a Pulled Muscle

Pulled muscles can be quite painful but the good news is that they’re not necessarily serious, and you can usually get back to your sport quite quickly if you are proactive with your rehab.

When the injury happens, stop the activity that caused the pain. If it’s sore enough to make you stop for a minute or two, the best thing to do is end the session then and there, because continued activity could make it even worse. Take some time out to heal. Read about Best Natural Remedies For Back Pain .

Historically, the recommendation has been to follow the PRICE protocol, which is:


The idea is that you protect the damaged muscle from further injury, rest it (try not to put weight on the injured area, avoid playing sports, etc), and then try to limit the swelling of the injured limb through the use of ice, compression bandages, and keeping the limb elevated above the level of your heart – e.g. by propping your ankle up instead of sitting normally on a chair.

The ‘ice’ part of that protocol is now controversial, as there is conflicting evidence regarding whether ice helps to heal injuries more quickly. It can, however, help to reduce pain short term and some people like to use it for that. If you do decide to apply ice to an injury, the ice should be wrapped up in a cloth or a towel. Do not apply ice directly to your skin, because it can damage the skin.

It is OK to take painkillers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are the best choice. Make sure that you take only the recommended dosage, and that you follow the other directions on the bottle (age recommendations, whether or not to take with food, etc) to the letter.

If the pain is very serious, then you should seek medical advice. If the pain does not go away or start to feel a lot better after a couple of days, talk to a doctor or go to the walk-in centre. If you cannot walk on or move the injured limb or you think that you have a broken bone, then seek advice immediately.

While you are resting the injury, try to keep the body part mobile. Do not exercise it too vigorously (because that would defeat the point of ‘resting’), but do try to move it a little to stop it seizing up.

Prehab is Better than Rehab

Once you have recovered, it is a good idea to take some precautions to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Try to warm up before exercising, by performing light calisthenics, jogging or skipping. Don’t just go straight in to your physical activity because this is likely to just leave you open to more injury.

Being strong and flexible will help to avoid injury, even if your sport isn’t one where strength would typically be considered a key attribute. Things like kettlebell workouts can be beneficial for building overall strength, and they don’t take a lot of time either.

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