Muscle Injuries

Exercise and sport is something that we all love to participate in. With this injuries are common place, and highly frustrating for all. All muscle injuries should be treated with a level of precaution, poor or a failure in treatment can lead to more weeks or months away from the things you love to do. Here we will talk about the main types of muscle injuries, risk factors for muscle injuries and what you can do to help yourself.

Muscle Injury Type

Muscle injuries are common in team sports or running for example. The mechanism of your injury can be typically characterised in two ways; acute or chronic. Acute injuries are mostly traumatic in mechanism causing a macro-trauma to the muscle. Chronic injuries are most commonly overuse injuries this is brought on by a repetitive micro-trauma over a period of time. Chronic injuries are much harder to diagnose than acute injuries due to the fact the initial injury is often unknown so the link between mechanism and symptoms is difficult to make. A muscle strain can be compared to ligament sprain in the use of a grading system.

  • Grade I – characterised by localised pain, this involves very few muscle fibres being torn, with full range of motion available.
  • Grade II – many more fibres torn in comparison to a grade I tear, pain is felt during contraction of the muscle, range of movement limited by pain and there is a decrease in strength.
  • Grade III – this is the complete rupture of the muscle. This can be further split into two categories. The complete rupture can take place at the musculotendinous junction the muscle belly is split into two.

Predisposing Risk Factors

There are many risk factors that can predispose a muscle injury; some of the risk factors can be prevented others cannot.

  • Age
  • Previous injury
  • Overtraining
  • Poor Technique
  • Lack of sleep/recovery
  • Poor preparation e.g. warm-up
  • Lack of range of motion
  • Imbalance in muscle strength

Treatment for Acute and Chronic Muscle Injuries

Acute injuries often occur through a traumatic experience, so the RICE protocol should be followed. This protocol can be read in more description here. This is ideal in helping to reduce immediate post-injury swelling and pain. Following this, early mobilisation has been shown in research to be the most beneficial to increase vascularisation of the injured tissue, with a better alignment and regeneration of the muscle fibres. Muscle strengthening will then occur, this will reduce the muscular imbalances between the tissues and reduce the risk of re-injury.

Chronic injuries typically outnumber acute injuries; mainly due to the fact that the sportsperson plays through the injury and by the time they present for treatment the injury is a complex one to fix. To treat a chronic injury the therapist must treat the factors pre-disposing the athlete to the injury. This may be a variety of exercises, technique correction or simply managing the athletes workload.

For both of these injuries care should be given throughout the rehabilitation phase. The key aim for this programme is to reduce the risk of re-injury whilst also making sure the muscle is ready and prepared for the return to the activity it is participating in.

If you have any problems with muscle injuries and you would like treatment on this book here and we will be happy to get you back prepared for your activity.