Ouch! Pulling or straining a muscle hurts — it also puts a damper on your active lifestyle. It usually happens when the muscle is overstretched and tears. What often follows is pain when moving that muscle, discolored and bruised skin, and swelling, depending on the severity.
The American College of Sports Medicine describes three degrees of strains:
If you experience any of these symptoms, ACSM recommends using the P.R.I.C.E. principle:
Seek medical help if you see deformities, significant swelling or pain, or changes in skin color.
Do your best to avoid pulling your precious muscles with these following tips:
Whether it’s a quick walk or light jog, warming up your muscles before any workout or strenuous activity will protect you from muscle strain. Once you are warmed up, limber up. Dynamic stretching will allow you to take care of both these steps at once. It will increase power, flexibility and range of motion. InShape Fitness has a great 10-minute warmup routine available here. Do some static stretching after your workout.
Total body strength and conditioning will keep your muscle strong and less vulnerable to injury. Consider adding functional training to your strength training. Developed by physical therapists to help rehabilitate patients, functional training targets the core muscles and uses your own body weight and equipment like BOSU, medicine balls, kettlebells and resistance tubes. It works best when tailored to your specific needs, and gets progressively challenging as you gain strength and balance.