Injuries Unpacked #12: Muscle Strain

Anatomy

Skeletal muscles are made up of elastic muscle fibres that are bundled together and wrapped in connective tissue. Each skeletal muscle consists of different tissue types. These tissues include the skeletal muscle fibres, blood vessels, nerve fibres and connective tissue. Each tissue type has an important role and is vital in helping our bodies work the right way. 

Muscles all work together by contracting and relaxing, which assists us in moving our body. Skeletal muscles also helps in stopping us from moving, like resisting against gravity and maintaining posture. Another important function is that they assist in preventing excess movement of our joints to maintain stability and preventing structural damage. 

Risk Factors

  • Sudden heavy lifting
  • Overuse
  • Muscle tightness or fatigue
  • Failure to warm-up properly
  • Strength imbalances
  • Previous muscle strains

Mechanism of Injury

When a muscle is moved too far in one direction, or excessively loaded eccentrically (whilst being lengthened), the muscle fibres can break either partially or completely. Different muscles around the body can be injured in all different ways. Here are a few examples of ways that common muscle strains can occur:

  • Hamstring – An injury to the hamstring muscle (back of your thigh) can occur from rapid muscle contraction, like sprinting or jumping, or a violent stretch, like kicking a football with your leg going too high. 
  • Calf – An injury to the calf muscle can occur during sudden bursts of acceleration.
  • Quadricep – An injury to the quadricep muscle (front of thigh) can occur from kicking. 
  • Groin – An injury to muscles in the groin can occur from changing direction, kicking and jumping.

There are 3 grades to a muscle strain. Knowing the grade assists in guiding your rehabilitation and gives a better understanding of healing time. 

  • Grade 1 – stretching, small tear
  • Grade 2 – larger, but incomplete tear 
  • Grade 3 – complete tear

What can a physio help with?

Seeing a physiotherapist soon after your muscle injury can assist you in starting your road to recovery the right way. They can help with:

  • Assessing and diagnosing the extent of the injury. 
  • Explain to you the prognosis of your injury and discuss with you treatment options. 
  • Provide you with a tailored strengthening program to get assist you in getting back stronger than ever
  • Ensure you are ready to return to sport or normal activity safely!

Image credit: https://www.coachmag.co.uk/health/8608/muscle-strains-how-to-avoid-and-treat-pulled-muscles, https://www.popsci.com/what-makes-muscle-pull/ & https://www.antibodywear.com/hamstring-injuries-symptoms-treatment/