What is muscle strain?
How can physiotherapy and massage therapy help with muscle strains?
Things to consider after a muscle strain include:
- Rest the injured limb. If you have a significant amount of pain and/or swelling, do not put weight on the injured area until you have ruled out a complete tear and/or fracture. An X-ray may be needed to rule this out and your doctor may recommend not putting any weight on the injured area for 48 hours. If you feel that your joint or limb is unstable, or if you have a deformity such in the case of a shoulder joint dislocation and/or knee cap dislocation, go to emergency or to an urgent care clinic as soon as possible for treatment.
- Active Rest. Don't avoid all activity. Even with a calf strain, you can usually still exercise other muscles to minimize deconditioning. For example, you can use an exercise bicycle with arm exercise handles, working both your arms and the uninjured leg while resting the injured ankle on another part of the bike. That way you still get three-limb exercise to keep up your cardiovascular conditioning. As your physiotherapist for help in this area.
- Ice the area. Use a cold pack, a slush bath or a compression sleeve filled with cold water to help limit swelling after an injury. Try to ice the area as soon as possible after the injury and continue to ice it for 15 to 20 minutes, four to eight times a day, for the first 48 hours or until swelling improves. If you use ice, be careful not to use it too long, as this could cause tissue damage.
- Compress the area with an elastic wrap or bandage. Compressive wraps or sleeves made from elastic or neoprene are best.
- Elevate the injured limb above your heart whenever possible to help prevent or limit swelling.
When do you need urgent medical attention after a muscle strain?When you:
- If you have severe pain you may have a complete muscle tear and or some other significant injury that should be assessed by a medical doctor immediately.
- Are unable to bear weight on the injured leg, if it feels unstable or numb, or you can't use it. This may mean the muscle was completely torn. On the way to the doctor, apply a cold pack.
- Develop redness or red streaks that spread out from the injured area. This means you may have an infection.
- Have re-injured an area that has been injured a number of times in the past.
- Have a severe strain. Inadequate or delayed treatment may contribute to long-term complications or chronic pain.
How can exercise and physical development help after muscle strains?
The Kinetic ChainOur body functions best and with minimal stress when it is in optimal alignment and posture. Proper structural correction is achieved with proper footwear and support. Proper functional mechanics requires skill development and neuromuscular training and is the science of motor learning. The kinetic chain is a integrated functional unit of systems that work interdependently to allow structural and functional efficiency. It is made of the soft tissue system (muscle, ligament, tendon, and fascia), the Neural system ( peripheral nervous system of nerves and the central nervous system or brain), and the Articular system (joints). If any of these systems do not work efficiently, compensations and adaptations may occur in the other systems. A dysfunction in the kinetic chain leads to decreased performance and predictable patterns of injury. Imbalances may result from postural stress, a pattern of overload, repetitive movement, a lack of core stability, and a lack of neuromuscular efficiency. All functional movement patterns involve deceleration, stabilization and acceleration, which occur at every joint in the kinetic chain and in all planes of motion at varying speeds.
Optimum posture and alignment provides optimal structural and functional efficiency to the kinetic chain. If one component is out of alignment, it creates predictable patterns of tissue overload and dysfunction, leads to decreased neuromuscular control and initiates the cumulative injury cycle. Muscle imbalance leads to abnormal neuromuscular control leads to overloaded tissue and tissue fatigue which leads to inflammation and eventually leads to tissue trauma or injury. The most common patterns of compensation are the Pronation Pattern of the lower body and the Forward Head Pattern of the upper body and these two patterns are the focus of our screen examination and our subsequent corrective preventative exercise plan. Identification of biomechanical imbalances in a way that is specifically related to the multi planner movements and that involves acceleration, deceleration, stabilization and occurs at multiple speeds in those specific body positions and posture activities of daily living. Assessment of the muscular system (functional anatomy) the articular system (functional biomechanics) and the neural system (motor behavior) becomes important in the prevention and treatment of overuse injuries and repetitive strains. In order to live a healthy and active lifestyle, one has to train their body the way it moves during daily functional movements.
Exercise Training and Physical DevelopmentFoot stability and posturing is the most important physical training that you can do to prevent and maintain good foot mechanics and reduce abnormal stresses on the tendons and muscles of the lower extremity. As for Achilles tendonopathy itself, often strength training will cause more tightness and subsequently overload the tendon and make it worse. This overuse injury often does well with soft tissue techniques and laser techniques. By decreasing inflammation initially, strengthening exercises may be less aggravating and more effective. We must remember that our calves are typically strong and tight and overused simply by virtue of the functional demands placed on these muscles as we ambulate. To prevent this from happening, recovery techniques such as massage should be a part of your regular routine.
How can low intensity laser therapy help muscle injury?
Physiological effects of Low Intensity Laser TherapyWith LILT there is an increased production and release of:
- Endorphins which - natural analgesics
- Cortisol – a precursor of cortisone
- Growth hormone – instrumental in tissue repair
- ATP – improves and regulates cellular metabolism
- An increase in protein synthesis – collagen, DNA, fibroblasts
- A facilitated venous and lymphatic flow
- Increased angiogenesis – the elevation of oxygen saturation
- Enhanced immune response
What life style and self-care measures can you do for yourself to prevent muscle strains?
PreventionTo reduce your chance of developing muscle strains, follow these suggestions:
- Develop Strength and fitness. Often those who develop muscle strains have are not prepared physically to perform either the volume or intensity of the activity which they participate in. If your goal is to be active, talk to your physiotherapist to help you develop the components of fitness that are most important to the activities that you do.
- Prepare your muscles to play. Strengthening muscles used in your activity or sport can help them better withstand stress and load.
- Recover from activity and get ready for the next. Ask your therapist about the strategies that are best for you to recover from your specific activity. Heat, ice, massage, baths, stretching and include.
- Warm up first. Before you exercise, take time to increase your core temperature and break a sweat and then stretch in order to maximize the range of motion of your joints. This can help to minimize repetitive microtrauma on tight tissues. Remember, regular massage by your physiotherapist and or your massage therapist helps too.
- Use proper workplace ergonomics. If possible, get an ergonomic assessment of your work space and adjust your chair, keyboard and desktop as recommended for your height, arm length and usual tasks. This will help protect all your joints and tendons from excessive stress.
- Mix it up. If one exercise or activity causes you a particular, persistent pain, try something else. Cross-training can help you mix up an impact-loading exercise, such as running, with lower impact exercise, such as biking or swimming.
- Improve your technique. If your technique in an activity or exercise is flawed, you could be setting yourself up for problems with your tendons. Consider taking lessons or getting professional instructions when starting a new sport or using exercise equipment.
- Ease up. Know your body. If you are not fit to perform the activity ease up, avoid activities that place excessive stress on your tendons, especially for prolonged periods. If you notice pain during a particular exercise, stop and rest. If you are unable to progress and develop your sport, seek help from a physiotherapist who understands how to develop athletes.
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