Muscle Strain : Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

Muscle strain is a chronic soft injury in muscle tissues. Muscle pull or tear is the damage to muscle or tendons. A tendon refers to the tissues attaching with bone and muscles. Muscles get strain during normal life activities. The abrupt heavy lifting may put pressure on muscles.

Muscle injury can be a form of cutting of fibers or tendons connected to muscles. The muscle damage can affect tiny blood vessels. It causes internal bleeding. The pain occurs due to nerve irritations.

Almost anybody can put extreme pressure on muscles. A muscle strain may occur during sports activities.

Causes of Muscle Strain:

Sudden muscle rapture is the principal cause of chronic muscle strain. Such muscle rapture happens from injuries or wound. Learn more about the causes such as

Poor Flexibility

Poor flexibility is the difficulty of moving muscles in everyday activities. It causes muscle tightness, joint stiffness, lower back pain and posture problem. Arterial stiffening depends on muscles flexibility. It is also known as arteriosclerosis. It determines how hard the heart pumped the blood through the body.

Flexibility is important to move the muscles such as

  • Lifting object
  • Getting out of bed
  • Floor-sweeping

Unfortunately, the muscles flexibility declines with age. By the time regular body moment decrease the range of motion in joints. But, staying active can help to maintain the muscles moment flow. Being flexible reduces the rare acute back pain.

Flexibility exercise may help you in maintaining proper muscle stretch. Prolong sitting every day make your muscles tight and shorten. It causes low back pain. Flexibility training can recover the weakness and risk of injury. It can also improve your moments and posture.

Workout without Warm-up

Are you starting at the gym without warm up? If yes, it may be a bad news for your muscles. You may be putting yourself at the tremendous risk of muscle injury.

A famous athletic trainer Dr. Bill Kelley shared his views. Warm-ups are vital for heating up muscle tissues, such as

  • Reducing internal tissue hardness
  • Improve tissue deformation

According to a review study of 2012, a well-performed warm-up includes

  • Proper stretching
  • Muscle strengthen
  • Muscle balance
  • Landing methods

The above features help to decrease the chance of knee injuries. You need to know the tricks of enough warm-ups. The regular progress in intensity can be an active warm up. It should not be static stretching. But, it should determine moments to produce functional stretch.

Sudden fall and slip

When you fall down or slip by chance causes muscles strain. Fall or slip cause functional and mechanical damage. It affects body movements.

The muscles mechanism includes

  • Connective tissue
  • Joints
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves and bones

The body has fixed movement patterns of postural changes. It protects from fall or injuries. You may experience possible side effects as fall such as

Poor Muscle Conditioning

Muscle conditioning is an exercise for the body muscles to gain better strength. The athlete needs several position exercises for muscle conditioning. While doing so, they are likely to make a mental and physical mistake.

You need to have proper knowledge of sports and gym techniques. Otherwise, your fitness or sports levels become poor. It impacts on your performance and gives you stress. Poor conditioning of muscles limits you from getting stronger. It creates more chances of injuries.

People, who are strong, may end up gaining strength. It happens because of their muscles poor conditioning. You can regain the conditioning of muscles through exercises, such as

  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Walking
  • Snowshoeing

Muscle conditioning is not only for athletes, but it is for everyone. It boosts your confidence and performance in sports or gym. Find out what workout you enjoy. Work on that particular exercise in training sessions.

Overexertion and fatigue

When the body workout more than its limits known as overexertion. Carrying the weight, more than you can handle, causes muscles strain. It put heavy pressure on muscles. Even motion control games also cause overexertion.

Overexertion of muscles has severe signs, such as chest pain and breathing problem. You may experience a constant cough and wheeze. It shows that you are suffering from a cough caused by exercise. There are also some signs of the heart attack like chest tightening. In this condition, you need immediate medical care.

Making your body work without sleep for a long time causes fatigue. It makes your muscles tired and strained. You need to take care without forcing your body for hard exercise. You can prevent fatigue by the following steps.

  • Take enough sleep
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid caffeine
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Do regular exercise

Jumping and Running

Calf muscle strain occurs if you jump or run in an unforeseen situation. The calf is a group of 9 different muscles. The muscle injury occurs in a single or all. Forceful movements are the leading cause of muscle strain. Calf muscles strain is more likely to develop in individuals who are in professions such as

  • Sports
  • Dance
  • Gymnasts

Chronic muscle strain is common in cold climate. In cold muscles become stiff. You need extra time to warm up to prevent strains.

Signs and Symptoms of Muscle Strain:

Stretching muscles beyond its limit result in strain or even injury. Here are the signs and symptoms of strained muscles.

Swelling and Redness

The breaking of muscle may hurt small blood veins. It causes local bleeding and swelling. Muscles swelling occur because of stretching. It results in inflammation and builds up fluid in the affected area. The swelling and redness depend on the condition of injury. It can be only inside or visible outside.

Muscles Pain

The affected area of strained muscles becomes painful. The pain occurs because of muscles tension and injury. The muscles pain can be range from mild to severe. It depends on the amount of damage or cut.

Joints Pain

Strained muscles connected to joints caused by ligaments damage. You may get pain in joints such as ankle, knees, wrist or back. The joints pain also known as a sprain. Joint structure formation depends on muscles and ligaments. Hence, injuries in knees, ankle or shoulder lead to both muscles and joints pain.

Weakness Sensation

You may experience weak muscles due to injury. You may get symptoms such as tired, numb, shaky and unstable. You may feel a particular affected area of the body not working. Some people feel weak to move their muscles. The weakness may occur in head, neck, arms, legs, and face.

The muscles weakness tension depends on the severity. Some weakness lasts for hours to days. It may disappear while relax or sleep time and continue after wakeup.

Some individuals feel immense discomfort because of weakness. For some people, the weakness limits the physical activity of daily life.

Sequentially, the symptoms depend on the injured muscle. Other symptoms include

  • Rib pain while throwing
  • Abdominal pain while sitting
  • Leg (calf) pain while running or walking
  • Back pain while bending and coming back to normal posture
  • Pain during neck and head movement
  • Overhead position stretching pain
  • Pain during knees moving together
  • Flexed posture extending the pain
  • Hips and thigh pain while moving
  • Pain during running or walking from stairs
  • Pain in hip and knees muscles
  • Pain in Bicep muscle while lifting

Where does muscle strain occur?

The strain can occur in the upper body as well as lower body parts. The ankles have more chances of getting muscle strain. Ankle often gets injured, while recreational activities or sports. In the USA, 1 million ankle injury occurs every year.

The strain occurs when the foot twist inward if you fall, runs. Sometimes jumping and landing on ankle can cause you injury. It happens because of the lateral ligaments damage.

Prepare for an appointment with the doctor

You may consult with a family doctor. But, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic specialist. It may depend on the condition of your injury. You need to visit the orthopedic clinic if your injury pain reoccurs. Prepare a list of your muscle strain, if you had any childhood or past injury. The list should include the details such as

  • Detail information of your symptoms
  • Previous health problems
  • Family and siblings problems related to muscles
  • Report on health supplement and medicine you already taking
  • List of question about your doubts
  • Any home treatment you did after the injury
  • Medicine name which causes side effects

Diagnose Muscle Strain

Patient history is necessary for diagnosing muscle strain. The doctor will examine the injury of muscles. It helps to know the condition of muscles. If the injury is severe, it requires a longer time to cure the wound. Damaged muscles need surgery. You will need X-rays or lab tests if there is a sign of infection or trauma.

When to seek medical help?

If you have a particular muscle injury, try soothing with home care. But, you should call a doctor or visit clinic if you notice conditions such as

  • Swelling and pain
  • When pain doesn’t go in 24 hours
  • If you are unable to move the affected area
  • If you have open cuts
  • Fever

Treatment for Muscle strain

The treatment of strained muscle depends on the condition. The ligament, muscle, and tendon produce scar tissue for recovering. Rest is an important thing to heal the injury.

If the injury is minor, it will recover by repairing fibers. The damaged muscles take time to return its original movement. Regular stretching could help the condition for recovery. Physical therapy can heal muscles function loss. There are different treatments to consider for strained muscles, such as

Cold Therapy

The loss of fibers in injured tissues causes inflammation and pain. A cold pack can reduce the muscles inflammation. Placing an ice pack on the affected area for 20 – 30 times a day can improve. You can use it multiple times a day.

You can use the methods such as

  • Ice pack
  • Cold bath
  • Cold therapy

Many patients find the ice pack available at home. It is helpful to recover the strained muscles pain.


Applying pressure on injured area can help to decrease swelling. You can use an elastic bandage for constant compression. It helps to prevent excess swelling. Effective compression helps to remove fluid. The pumping action provides extra benefits. It increases the blood flow and oxygen to repair the tissues.


Healing massage helps to loosen tight muscles. Massage helps the blood flow in strained muscles. The pressure kept in massage removes the waste. The muscles strained area may become sensitive to massage. Regular massage can help to improve the motion range and relieve pain.

Heat Therapy

You can heal the muscle strain with heat therapy. But, you should apply heat therapy after swelling decrease. You can use the methods such as

  • Warm water bath
  • Hot water bag or bottle
  • Hot cloth

Other ways to prevent muscle strain

  • Take proper rest and sleep well so that muscle can relax
  • Protect the strained muscle from lifting or moving inappropriately
  • Avoid activities which causing you pain
  • Do not apply the ice directly on the affected area
  • Use compression smoothly so it should not put more pressure
  • Elevate the strained muscles area. It reduces swelling. For example: Keep moving up the strained leg
  • Keep stretching every day
  • Consider doing a proper warm-up
  • Make a routine of warm-up to engage strenuous exercise
  • Consult a doctor and start an exercise program

Grades of muscle strains

Grade 1:

This is a minor muscle strain. It affects a small area of muscles fiber. We can expect the recovery of strained muscles in weeks of time.

Grade 2:

In this level, the muscle strain affects a medium group of muscles. Only some part of muscle fiber gets affected. It can be a small tear in a group of muscles. The injury can heal in months of time.

Grade 3:

In this level, a single or group of muscles completely get ruptured. The torn muscles need surgical repair. It takes many months to recover.

How to prevent muscles strain?

  • Maintain a well-balanced diet for healthy muscles.
  • Manage a healthy weight
  • Stay safe from falls (example: walkways, yard, stairs, and clutter free driveways.)
  • Wear comfortable shoes
  • Replace old shoes
  • Practice stretch exercise daily
  • Warm up before exercise or sports
  • Wear protective sports accessories while playing.
  • When tired avoid sports and exercise
  • Choose even surface for running.

Proper treatment helps to recover muscles strain. Doctor consultation and detail analysis are necessary for complicated injuries.

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