When it comes to exercise, sports, or even simply just any form of physical activity in general, although all of the above are fantastically healthy and beneficial for us in so many different ways, we also need to understand the risks and dangers associated with them in the process.
For example, before exercising or working out, we should always, always, ensure that we warm up and stretch properly.
On top of that, we also need to ensure that we perform and carry out each exercise as effectively and safely as possible.
Our muscles are constantly being placed under strain and under pressure every single day, even by doing something as seemingly trivial as walking.
By placing our muscles under pressure, we run the risk of suffering muscle strain, muscle pulls, or even muscle tears, which are not only very painful, they also often require surgery and a lengthy recovery process, depending on the extent of the injury of course.
Here we’ll be taking a more in-depth look at muscle strain, taking a look at the technical definition, what causes it, and how we can prevent it.
So, what is muscle strain?
Muscle strain, muscle pulls, or even muscle tears, are basically referring to damage our muscles and/or the attached tendons have suffered for a variety of reasons.
More often than not, muscle strains are a result of the muscles becoming over-stretched, overtrained or working out hard for the first time some forgotten muscles.
Explosive movements such as sprinting can often result in strained muscles, as can excessive weightlifting, or weight lifting without properly taking the time to warm up beforehand.
When the muscle tissues find themselves overloaded, they reach almost a breaking point where they can’t physically bear any more, resulting in a tear, or a partial tear often occurring.
After suffering a muscle strain, the person will then experience pain or discomfort whenever that particular muscle is used.
These strains are often categorised into three separate grades:
Grade 1 strains – This is where less than 5% of the muscle fibres have suffered stress or damage. This is the mildest of strains with an average recovery time of just two or three weeks.
Grade 2 strains – Moving up a level we have grade 2 strains.
Grade 2 strains are obviously more serious than grade 1 strain and mean that more than 5% of the muscle fibres have been damaged.
Even so, the muscle will still not be fully ruptured.
Typical recovery time for this injury are around 3 – 6 weeks on average.
Grade 3 – strains – A grade 3 strain is a fully ruptured muscle meaning that it is fully torn or pulled away from the tendon itself.
These injuries are serious and very painful and often require surgery to repair or reattach the damaged muscle.
The recovery period for these injuries can vary from anything from 3 months through to 9 months, possibly even longer still.
The thing to remember with any muscle strain, no matter which grade it is categorised into, is that the injury must be treated appropriately and given plenty of time to heal.
If you were to suffer a grade 1 strain whilst in the gym for example, if you were to try to work through the pain and discomfort, you would only make the injury worse and it could then turn into a grade 2 strain, and so on.
What are the main causes Of Muscle Strain?
There are many different causes of muscle strain and muscle pulls or tears, but some of the main examples include the following:
Not warming up properly
One of the biggest causes of muscle strains is by the person exercising not taking the time to stretch or warm up before they begin working out.
The idea behind stretching and warming up is to improve the elasticity of muscle fibres so that they aren’t pulling as tight and are less likely to snap.
Think of an elastic band, for example.
If you pull the band tight, it’s much easier to snap than if it is loose and well, elastic.
The same principle applies to your muscles.
Working out for too long
The human body is only designed to be able to physically exert itself for so long before it begins to tire and fatigue, and generally speaking that is around 90 minutes on average, although again that will depend on what you’re doing.
If you’re heading to the gym and lifting weights for a prolonged period of time, and are then running for an hour or two afterwards, you’ll find your muscles under intense pressure and thanks to lactic acid build up etc., you could then suffer a strained muscle.
Not following correct form – Another reason why people often find themselves suffering muscle strains and injuries is that they don’t follow the correct form of various exercises and movements, either in the gym, or anywhere else for that matter.
Certain movements are only designed to be performed in a certain way, and so if you perform them incorrectly, you will be forcing your muscles to move inaccurately and unnaturally and will then again be at risk of damaging them and suffering an injury.
You should always follow strict and correct form for whatever exercises and movements you happen to be performing. If you have a bad posture and are looking for ways to correct it, here are the best posture corrector for men and women.