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What you Need to Know About Straining a Muscle: Symptoms & Recovery

What are the Symptoms of Straining a Muscle & How to Recover Quickly

A muscle strain injury can be quickly identified with loss of movement, muscle weakness, discoloration or bruising, and other such symptoms at the site of injury. Symptoms can vary with the intensity of the injury.

Muscle strain recovery time might take a few weeks to months. To know how to speed up muscle strain recovery time following tips can be followed:

  • Intake Protein pre-and post-workout
  • Massage 
  • Sleep
  • Avoiding Alcohol and Tobacco 

What are Muscle Strains

Muscle strain, also known as a muscle pull or muscle tear, is damage inflicted to a muscle or its attaching tendons. The neck, lower back, shoulder, and hamstring are commonly strained areas in the body. 

A muscle strain can happen because of an accident, body fatigue, injury, stiffness, or when misusing a muscle. The damage occurs when a tear happens in the muscle fibers and tendons attached to the muscle. The damage causes swelling, soreness, discoloration, or limited movement in the affected area.  

Mild or moderate strains are treatable at home while severe strains may require medical attention through surgery or physical therapy. 

How do you know if you have Strained a Muscle??

Noted symptoms of muscle pain can vary depending on the severity of the injury. A few identifiable common symptoms are:

  • Limited movement in the muscle
  • Muscle Weakness 
  • Discoloration or bruising 
  • Swelling
  • Soreness
  • Bleeding from the wound
  • Muscle spasm
  • Pain

The muscle strain can last a long till a few weeks extending to months. The basis of the 

Muscle strains happen due to a tear in the tendon attached to the muscle and muscle fibers. Recovery can take place at home when the strain is mild or moderate. Immediate medical attention ensures faster recovery and minimal damage.

What Causes a Muscle Strain

Muscle strain can either be acute or chronic.  

A sudden tear in the muscle is termed acute muscle strain. Such tears happen due to: 

  • Poor flexibility
  • Fatigue
  • Improper body warm-up exercise 
  • Stiff muscle 

Acute muscle tear results from an injury or trauma. It can happen during: 

  • Walking
  • Jumping
  • Lifting heavy objects 
  • Lifting with improper body position
  • Running

Chronic Muscle Strain results from repetitive injuries on a stressed muscle because of repetitive movement. They can occur due to: 

  • Sports such as cricket, football,, or basketball
  • Holding a certain body position for a long duration
  • Bad posture

How to Recover from a Muscle Strain

Taking an example, the fastest way to heal a strained calf muscle can be with the R.I.C.E. technique. 

Use an Ice Pack

Immediately apply ice to the affected area. The ice can be applied by wrapping it in a towel or using an ice pack. Massage the area for about 20 minutes. It’ll reduce the swelling on the calf. On the day of the injury, apply ice every alternate hour and every four hours over the next couple of days until the swelling goes down. 


To reduce swelling wrap an elastic bandage on the strained muscle. Doing so will also result in increasing mobility and a decrease in fluid buildup. Compression bandages are available at pharmacies. Keep the bandage tight near the affected area and loose at the end as you move away from it. 


Elevate the strained calf above the hip level for the initial days of injury. The leg can be kept on a thick pillow or a raised platform. Elevation of the muscle will reduce the swelling and pain. 

Get Some Rest

Avoid the use of strained calf muscle in the initial days of injury. Avoid running or other calf-straining activities to deflect further injury. Do not isolate the muscle completely, start light activities to keep the muscle from getting weak. Return to normal exercise when the calf is healed from pain and swelling. 

It is recommended to seek physical therapy if the intensity of the muscle injury is severe. 

If you’ve been searching the internet to know how to relieve strained thigh muscle? Rest easy, as the same technique can be used for every strain,

When to Seek Medical Attention

The majority of the muscle strain injuries are mild or moderate in their severity. 

Treating mild to moderate strains at home is sufficient. Contact the doctor in case of the following: 

  • Numbness in the injured area
  • Unable to walk 
  • Blood coming from the site of the wound 
  • No relief in pain 
  • Unable to move the injured area

Medical Exams & Tests you may Need

Such as for a strained quad muscle recovery, getting a physical examination and imaging tests, such as X-Rays and MRI scans, will help the doctor to decide the severity of the injury. Common treatment practices to relieve pain and swelling include anti-inflammatory medicines and pain relievers. Physical therapy is also recommended to strengthen the muscle and retain movement. 

In case of severe injuries, surgery is probably done to repair the muscle. 

Preventing a Muscle Strain

Muscle strains can be easily avoided by following a few basic precautionary steps: 

  • Lifting objects: Lifting heavy objects requires a proper body position to be maintained. Straighten the back, bend the knees, and lift with the legs. The weight must be held near the body. Actions like twisting or shaking must not be performed when the weight is being lifted. 
  • Wear proper shoes: Properly fitted shoes will provide a good balance to the body. 
  • Weight Loss: People with obesity must focus on losing weight to maintaining a fitter body. 
  • Keeping good posture: Preserving a good posture while standing or sitting reduces stress on back muscles. Try alternative positions if the body has been sitting in one position for too long. Keep moving the body and take a little break by walking or light stretching. Position your lower back with support from a chair or a pillow. 
  • Regular exercise: Stretch the body properly before engaging in a physical workout. It’ll relax the muscles and warm up the body. The physical workouts will further strengthen muscles and help in presenting strains. 

How Long does it Take to Heal a Muscle Strain??

Muscle strains are categorized into 3 Grades: I, II & III. The majority of the strains happen either because the muscle contraction was too strong or it was forced beyond its limit. How long does a muscle strain last depends on the grade of the strain and the site of injury as well.

Chest muscle strain: How long to heal? Well, it depends on the severity of the injury. In case of a soft tissue injury, it will take a few weeks to heal (grade I & II), and muscle or tendon rupture, falling in grade III, might require surgery. 

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