When the muscle becomes overstretched or torn, a strain occurs. While this type of injury can be seen within any muscle in the body, it is most common within the neck, shoulder, lower back and hamstring, which is the muscle behind the thigh. Muscle strains can limit movement and cause pain. It is important to know how to identify muscle strains in order to treat them properly.
Symptoms of muscle strains include soreness, a limited range of movement, stiffness, swelling and a sudden onset of pain. Mild to moderate muscle strains typically go away after a few weeks. Severe muscle strains can take months to heal, as this type of injury takes place when the muscle is severely torn.
Causes of Muscle Strains
There are two types of muscle strains, acute and chronic.
An acute muscle strain happens when the muscle tears unexpectedly and suddenly from injuries or trauma. An acute muscle strain can occur after not warming up properly before physical activity, along with overexertion and fatigue. This injury can also happen from walking, such as when you slip or lose your footing, or even when lifting something heavy. This type of strain is more likely to occur during colder weather, as the muscles become stiff in lower temperatures.
Then there’s chronic muscle strains, which result from repetitive movement. Sports such as rowing, baseball or golf can cause this particular type of injury. Poor posture can also result in a chronic muscle strain.
Regular exercise is good for a number of things, and in this case, it helps to keep your muscles strong and healthy. Proper techniques like stretching and warming up before engaging in physical activity will help to prevent a muscle strain from occurring.
Another way to prevent muscle strains is by maintaining good posture when sitting and standing, and not sitting in one position for too long at work. Use a chair that provides good support to your lower back as well.
Like most injuries, one of the best ways to treat a muscle strain is through rest, ice, compression and elevation. Avoid using the muscle for a few days, and be sure to apply ice immediately after injuring the muscle.
This article was adapted from Healthline. Read the full article here.
If you have any questions about muscle strains, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician.