Muscle strains may happen as a result of a specific trauma or accident, but more commonly they are the result of overuse and appear over time. Massage therapy can be an important tool for recovery.
“Strain” usually refers to a tear to muscle fibers. (Eye strain is a different thing altogether!) These tears can appear in the belly of the muscle or near the junction of muscle and tendons.
When muscle fibers are torn, the inflammation process begins. Collagen eventually begins to knit the fibers back together.
Strains are graded by severity.
First Degree Muscle Strain
First degree strains are mildly painful but do not seriously affect mobility or function.
Signs and Symptoms
- mild resting pain that increases with movement
- point tenderness
- little to no swelling
Third Degree Muscle Strain
Third degree strains are severe. They include rupture of the muscle and possible detachment of portions of the muscle from their supportive bones.
Signs and Symptoms
- instant severe, tearing or ripping pain
- visible bulging or shift in muscle location
- significant swelling and localized fever
- difficulty moving affected body part
- requires a trip to an emergency room
A third degree muscle strain should immediately be evaluated by a physician. Immobilize the affected body part, apply ice, and get to an emergency room or urgent care center. You will likely need x-rays and/or an MRI. You may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapy.
For a first degree strain, you should follow the R.I.C.E. protocol and treat the area with standard inflammation guidelines, followed by a non-emergency appointment with your physician.
- Prompt evaluation by a physician for an accurate diagnosis is key to minimizing further injury and beginning the healing process.
- Prevent further injury by modifying repetitive movements or workout techniques. Use supportive braces or kinesio tape and take care to properly stretch and warm up and cool down before and after activity.
- Manage inflammation by following the R.I.C.E. steps and consider the use of NSAIDs to manage pain and swelling.
- Properly rehabilitate the damaged tissues by slowly adding weight/stress to the injured muscles. Book an appointment with me for massages necessary to realign new muscle fibers and minimize the formation of scar tissue following strains.
Massage for Strains
Expert massage sessions can mean the difference between a few weeks of recovery, and permanent, chronic dysfunction.
It is vitally important to break the pain cycle. Lymphatic drainage techniques can be used to relieve swelling. Deep Tissue techniques can be used to influence the alignment of new fibers and scar tissue. Passive stretches can also influence collagen alignment.
Once you receive a diagnosis from your physician, it’s possible that your health insurance will cover your massage sessions with me.