Everybody has pulled a muscle at some point in their lives. Whether it is a low back strain, pulled hamstring, or an over-extended calf muscle, you know how painful it can be to recover from a muscular injury. These types of injuries often do not require professional intervention, but you can learn a lot from how the pros handle pulled muscle treatment.
Professional Recommendations for Pulled Muscle Treatment
When athletes or patients over-stretch or tear a muscle, trainers and physical therapists have standard protocols for alleviating pain, reducing swelling, and facilitating the recovery of the damaged tissue.
Limit Muscle Use
A pulled muscle should be rested, especially in the first few days after the injury. If you try to use the damaged muscles it can cause unnecessary pain and contribute to a longer recovery process. Depending on where the injury is, professionals might recommend using crutches or a brace to limit use or immobilize the area.
Apply Cold Therapy
Cold therapy is a standard treatment for injuries that cause pain and swelling, and it is a significant component of pulled muscle treatment. For the first few days after the injury, professionals recommend applying cold every two hours for 15-20 minutes at a time. This might seem like a lot, but the reason they do it is because it’s effective. To make the application of cold therapy more convenient, the pros use cold therapy machines that enable hands-free treatment at a safe and consistent temperature.
Compress the Area
Compression helps prevent excess swelling. The body’s natural response to an injury is inflammation. Although this process is beneficial, too much swelling can actually slow down healing, so use compression to avoid prolonging recovery. The pros take advantage of the active compression provided by cold therapy machines. In addition to constantly circulating water, a cold therapy machine also forces pneumatic air through the wrap to actively pump fluids away from the damaged tissues.
Use Pain Control Tactics
In addition to cold and compression therapy, the pros use other methods for naturally relieving pain. Examples include heat, massage, ultrasound, and low-voltage electricity devices. With the exception of some heat therapies, most of these methods require help from a professional and cannot be applied at home.
Do Physical Therapy
Regaining full range of motion after a pulled muscle can be achieved with physical therapy. Depending on the injury, a physical therapist will recommend certain exercises to help you safely recover as quickly as possible. The first phase often includes passive exercises that allow the joints to move without actively engaging the injured muscles. After this, more active exercises and stretches are introduced to help improve strength and flexibility.
Avoid Future Injuries
Professional trainers and physical therapists know that the best way to treat an injury is to avoid it in the first place. Doing exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles and using proper form can help prevent a pulled muscle in the future.
Nothing can replace the skills and knowledge of a trained expert, but if you want the benefits of professional pulled muscle treatment at home, consider renting a Game Ready unit for your recovery. Ask your doctor about getting a cold therapy machine for home use, or locate a provider near you.