Muscle Strain

Muscle strains occur when the muscle fibres are stretched beyond their limits; this often happens in sport when players sprint, change direction quickly or stretch to reach or return a pass.

Types of muscle strain

Muscle strains are classified into 3 categories depending on their severity; grade 1 strains affect only a few fibres and heal fairly quickly (approximately 2-3 weeks). Grade 2 strains affect more muscle fibres and can be very painful; recovery usually takes up to 6 weeks. Grade 3 strains involve a complete rupture of the muscle tissue; this injury will take up to 3 months to heal.

Symptoms of muscle strain

Mild muscle strains usually cause localised pain and swelling and may inhibit the range of movement around the affected muscle. More serious strains will cause considerable pain, a severe restriction in movement and swelling around the affected area.

Treatment and recovery

Treatment for minor strains usually involves a period of rest combined with regular ice compressions and anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications. More severe strains may require surgery and then a long period of rest and recovery; the muscle should be allowed to heal fully before a sportsperson starts training again. Physiotherapy may help to strengthen the muscle.

Preventing muscle strain

The most effective way to prevent muscle strain is to warm-up and cool down thoroughly.

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