What to Do When You Pull a Muscle

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A pulled muscle or muscle strain happens when a muscle is stretched too far and it tears.  The torn muscle may bleed a little and this causes bruising to appear. Muscle strain can be graded according to how serious they are:

  • Grade 1: Mild pain but still usable and not limiting activity
  • Grade 2: Moderate pain preventing athletic activities, with some swelling and bruising
  • Grade 3: Severe injury that can cause a lot of pain, muscle spasm, swelling and bruising

Best Treatments

Rest is essential for recovery, 1 to 5 days depending on how bad it is. But strapping it up in a splint is not a great idea as it can cause serious harm and lead to stiffness of the muscle.  

Ice helps reduce swelling, pain and bleeding, so get an ice pack on the pulled muscle as soon as possible. Repeat ice-pack treatments frequently, but don't keep the ice-pack on for more than 15-minutes each time.

Anti-inflammatory drugs will reduce swelling and pain, but they can have unwanted side-effects, so check with your doctor before starting anti-inflammatory meds.

Gentle stretching is useful when treating muscle strain. Muscles that are stronger and more flexible are less likely to be injured in the future.


After a muscle injury, it's important to regain strength before starting back on your normal athletic activities. Both the injury and the rest period will reduce the strength of the muscle, so you need to take it easy and build-up to your previous level gradually. 

This is also your insurance for the future as stronger muscles are less likely to tear again. Avoid muscle stiffness and strain in the future by keeping your muscles warm.


Over-used muscles are prone to injuries, so be careful not to push yourself too hard when you're training. Never skip the warm-up session that loosens muscles and helps prevent injury and this goes double before a competition.

Finally, don't take a pulled muscle lightly or refuse to see a doctor if it's bad, because the last thing you want is to find that being a macho man today affects your competition performance in the future!

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