How Does Physical Therapy Aide Heal Pulled Muscles?
We’ve all been there while working out, you accidentally move something just a little too far and pull a muscle. Not only is a pulled muscle extremely painful, but it is also worrying. An extreme case of pulled muscle can leave you incapable of being properly mobile like you’re used to until you are healed. Mild to minor cases of pulled muscles normally include soreness, irritation, bruising, discoloration, spasms, swelling, and a feeling of tightness that limits range of movement. As it is not only irritating as it inhibits you from your regular routine, it is also excruciatingly painful to experience a pulled muscle. Pulled muscles and muscle tears are in the nitty gritty realm of fitness and although we may not want to experience them. It is good to learn about the Physical Therapy Aide. How can Physical Therapy Aide Heal injured muscles? How do you prevent pulled muscles? And what happens to you when you pulled a muscle?
What is a pulled muscle?
A pulled muscle is essentially best described within it’s branding; it occurs when your muscle fibers are stretched or “pulled” beyond their regular bounds. This causes the little strings that make up your muscle known as “fibers”, to tear. Once these fibers tear, it can cause a lot of pain for the one who is suffering. Common muscles to experience fiber tears or pulled muscles are calves, hamstrings, and groins.
Causes of pulled muscles can vary from fatigue to outright misuse or abuse of the muscles. Many end up getting muscle strains when they have not warmed up their muscles properly or even at all before and after workouts. This makes it so that muscles are not equipped to withstand strenuous activity. Even with stretching and warming up involved, it is still possible to pull a muscle. Sometimes, are muscles are just not equipped or conditioned to endure extreme force. If your muscles feel as if they are being overworked during physical activity they may become weak in that moment and be more susceptible to straining or tearing. Overexertion and how you apply yourself during moments of flexibility are just two of many ways you can strain your muscles.
When it comes to pulled muscles and muscle strains, the damage can vary depending on the cause. Acute muscle strains involved an injury that is more immediate as opposed to long lasting. This can happen during your physical activity and it is usually a specific moment in which your muscle gets strained. This can happen when a body part is extended with force just a bit further than it is conditioned to. Examples would involved lifting or throwing heavy materials such as an exercise ball or even activities as simple as running or jumping. It’s common to lose balance for a moment and misstep thus causing your muscles to stretch out of the ordinary and tear.
Chronic muscle strains on the other hand differ from acute strains because they occur due to a cyclical movement. For people who play sports or have a regular exercise routine, they are often times repeating the same movement over and over again. For example, one of the main movements of playing tennis is to constantly swing your arms to ensure that the racket is hitting the ball and sending it across the way. This requires a lot of force and is constantly placing energy and force on those muscles. This repetitive movement puts that area of muscles around the shoulder and arm more at risk to strain or become pulled, especially if not managed properly off the court. Other muscle strains are all related to physical activity that is in routine or poor posture with lack of adjustment like slouching or sleeping while your neck is in ill placement.
How to prevent?
Since there are many ways to sprain your muscle, it is important to make sure that you are taking the proper preventative care. As stated above, lack of warming up your muscles is attributes to muscles being pulled or injury. A solution to this is to begin your workout with an appropriate stretching routine. Even if you are in a hurry to work out, dedicated a few minutes to properly stretch out your muscles and all their fibers can ensure that you are not hurting yourself in the long run. The few minutes you set aside will not only benefit you in the long run, but your workout will prove to be that much more enjoyable because your muscles are not as tensed up and rigid.
Stretching should be taken seriously and not sped through as to check something off a list. It’s important to go through all the steps and stretch out all the parts of your body from your legs all the way up to your arms and shoulders. It’s important to put a little more focus on the muscles that you know are going to be used a lot in your exercise. Aside from focusing on stretching before your workout, it is also just as important to stretch after your workout. It’s a common misconception that stretches are just a routine for warming up, but they should also be used as a method to cool down your muscles and ensure that you are decreasing the tightness and soreness that comes with physical activity. Stretching after a workout will increase mobility and strengthen your muscles to decrease muscle strain in your next workout.
There are still many ways to prevent muscle strain if you are wondering how to not get a pulled muscle. A concept that is often overlooked for people who engage in physical activity often or routinely exercise is “rest”. Rest, rest, rest. It is so important to let your muscles relax after a workout and a stretch. That way, they can rebuild from all the stress they have endured and come back stronger than ever. Since we now know that when we continuously workout the same muscles over and over again, it puts them at a higher risk to become strained, we should take breaks between those continuous workouts. If you go on a run every single day, you are putting your calves and the rest of your leg muscles under a lot of pressure. It’s crucial to take at least one or two days of the week to let your muscles recuperate. The more one ignores resting periods or resting days, the more worn out their muscles become. Muscles are like batteries, in the sense that they can give us so much power, but they will always need to be charged.
How to heal?
There is no sure fire way to prevent a pulled muscle considering they are fairly normal. So if it does get to a point where you have pulled a muscle and are worried about the healing process, there are ways to heal efficiently with a pulled muscle.
As we stated above, resting is crucial to not only ensure that you don’t pull a muscle, but also to heal a pulled muscle. Do not put force or use the muscle that is affected by the muscle strain. Many try to “work” through the pain as they think this will make them stronger, but this only only do more damage to the muscle fibers. Now, resting after a muscle has been pulled is unique because too much rest can also cause damage. After about 3 days when the pain has dwindled down, begin to slowly use that muscle. Try to move it by only doing the bare minimum and slowly regain your strength. If it begins to hurt too much then take a break and try again a few hours later or the next day. It’s important not to overexert the muscle once it’s pulled as well as letting it stay stagnant for too long.
Right after your injury it is important to apply an ice pack to the injured muscle and the region around it. Applying an ice pack to the pulled muscle with minimize swelling by restricting blood flow to the area of the pulled muscle. The cool temperature will also limit the cellular metabolism this limiting swelling. It is important to make sure you are not just applying ice to your skin and taking the time to find a cold compress with a protective lining. It is easy to want to apply ice right away, but without proper protection you can cause your skin to get irritated or damaged with an ice burn that only occurs when your skin comes in contact with extremely cold temperatures. Ice burns can be painful and can add on to the pain already existing from the pulled muscle. Remember to routinely ice the affected area for at least 15 minutes multiples times throughout the day. The periods of time between each icing should become longer as the days go by until you are healed.
Another way to heal from your injury is to compress they affected area with a bandage or gauze. Be sure to not wrap your strained muscle very tightly and instead only make sure you are adding slight pressure once it is wrapped. If you wrap your gauze too tight it could cut off the circulation too much and limit your healing process. Along with compressing your affected area, you should also elevate whatever muscle has been affected. This can be as simple as raising up your legs or arms in a lying position for a few moments of the day.
If after all of these at home remedies you still feel substantial pain, it is important you visit a qualified professional to assess your situation. Other than pain, if you feel extreme numbness, redness, or lack of mobility after an extended period of time you should also visit a Physical Therapist or a Physical Therapy Aide. A Physical Therapy Aide can guide you through all these healing remedies and lead you in stretches to help you gain back mobility. Physical Therapy Assistants and aides can also massage the strained muscles to assist you in gaining back your full health. Alternating between heating, cooling, massage, elevation, compression, and overall bodywork, a certified professional is implementing an advanced version of your at home remedies to make sure you are in tip-top shape.
Next time you have a pulled muscle, follow the steps above to get back to your regular physical activity as soon as possible. If this article peaked your interest, you can have all this knowledge in the future and use it to your advantage in a stable career making a salary. Southern California Health Institute is home to a Physical Therapy Aide program that will make sure that you will be equipped with the proper knowledge anytime you do run into any issues with muscle strain. If you want to learn how to become a certified professional Physical Therapy Aide in less than a year please call 818-980-8990 for a free consultation with one of our counselors.