What is a Muscle Strain?
A muscle strain is a condition where the muscles of the back are injured due to a traumatic pulling and subsequent tearing of the fibres. One of the most common sites of injury, regardless of the sport, is the lower back region. There are many causes for lower back pain, for example, which you may not realise are directly related to sports e.g. I often find that runners who have weak or inflexible hamstrings can experience severe ACUTE back pain as a consequence.
- Poor posture is a common cause.
- A sudden or abrupt movement that causes the muscles to stretch the muscles past their point of elasticity usually causes these injuries.
- Some back strains are the result of a high velocity impact such as a car accident that causes whiplash etc.
- Muscle strains can be caused due to repetitive strains. For example, A person who maintains improper posture at a computer on a regular basis or a tennis player who uses improper form may have their muscles tighten to the extent that something as simple as reaching for a salt shaker can cause them to pull a muscle.
- To add to the pain of a pulled muscle, the surrounding muscles react to the tear by stiffening to protect the injured muscle from further harm .
On average it takes about six weeks to recover from a muscle pull with some relief being felt after about three weeks. Scar tissue will continue to form past six weeks in some cases and as long as a year in severe back strains.
What Do You Do?
The first line of treatment is to support and protect the muscles, help them to loosen up and lessen the pain and minimize any inflammation. After three (or so) weeks, the muscle strain usually benefits from the introduction of mild exercise.
A few measures to ease your back pain
- Stretching & strengthening
- Good posture (particularly at work and on the commute)
- Ice packs
- Healthy diet
- Vitamin, Mineral and Herb Supplementation (if necessary)
- Meditation & breathing exercise to relax your back
- Regular massage & stretches will assist on both a preventative & curative aspect.