What is it?
A muscle strain is a tear of a certain degree to a muscle or tendon. It can happen to any muscle in the body as long as there is a weak spot in one of those fibres. Muscle strains can result in either acute or chronic tears. An acute tear is a new and fresh one. A chronic tear is an old wound that keeps re-tearing, usually from our activities of daily living.
How does a muscle strain happen?
Either from underuse of a muscle and then putting a heavy strain on it and/or overuse can lead to a muscle strain. Classic examples of this would be a computer worker of many years attempting to lift heavy weights — often times they will not know which weak muscle groups to exercise and may use their joints and muscles improperly to execute a motion, often resulting in injury. Another is a professional sports player continuously training in between his or her games without doing proper stretches, resting or rehab activities (such as massage, sauna..etc.) Without resting, the muscles become overused, which can result in a spasm or even worse a complete rupture.
What can be done to keep our muscles healthy?
Maintenance — this is my favourite word when educating clients about health from my perspective as a registered massage therapist….maintenance. Itʼs a very general term but it does not have to be confusing in any way of how to do it.
Besides eating well, it is very important to stay hydrated to keep your muscles supple….and then contract them, and lengthen them. Thatʼs it. Muscles love to be challenged; they really do. It is what they were created to do — to contract, and to stretch. Safe and even contractions produce even muscle toning (where all of the muscle fibres targeted graze over each other smoothly), as opposed to stiffening up in one spot (while the strongest fibre executes most of the motion all by itself) So contract safely. How? Start with small weights and do individual muscle contractions slowly with deep breathes and small repetitions (as a start) to get that even muscle tone. The key thing to always consider when revisiting this journey is to always do it safely.
If you need more help on which exercises to do that are best for you, book a session with a manual therapist or a trainer. As an R.M.T., I do thorough assessments before every treatment to get a better picture of what is happening to a personʼs structure. After treatment, I give individual exercises to do at home to help prevent muscle strains.
What happens if I already have a muscle strain?