Pulled muscles are a real pain in life in general, and even more so when it comes to your fitness. If you’re in the middle of a workout or you have an active lifestyle, there’s no telling the amount of damage a pulled muscle can do to you in both the long and the short term. When you understand them better, it's easier to avoid them and learn how to deal with them in the most efficient way, so here are some things to think about.

Torn Muscle Fibres

The cause of a pulled muscle is essential to understand before looking at how to deal with one; otherwise, it may be hard to get around what's happening. A pulled muscle is caused by damaging muscle fibre or the tendons that the muscle is attached to. It can have a huge range of severity, but typically it's nothing major. It happens because you've overexerted yourself in your training some way either by overtraining, not preparing or even just an accident.

When it does happen, you need to know what to do to prevent yourself from dealing any more damage or making it worse and to speed up the recovery, so you're back on your game in no time. Here's the general response, RICE, recommended by the NHS:


Man resting at home

You first of all need to stop using the muscle. You’ll only tear it more in the long run if you don’t take the strain off it from whatever it is that you were doing, or even anything following the injury. Just take a few days out and see how you improve.


Man icing his injury

Ice is crucial to recovering from injury. The cold response means that the blood flow doesn’t become too much which is what causes swelling and inflammation. The ice will keep you in as little pain as possible and allow the injury to repair itself over time.


Nurse applying a compression bandage to a patient

Compression is key too to a pulled muscle. It shares a lot of the same benefits as we mentioned for ice above, but with added benefits like being more practical and convenient for outside of your own home. It will likely also force you to rest as it does not have the manoeuvrability to do what you’d like it to with the bandage on.


Woman raising patients leg up

Finally, elevation. Elevation again reduces that blood flow to the affected area so that you aren't putting yourself in more pain, and it forces you to rest. You can't go and play whatever sport you were doing or lift that weight if your legs are strung up above you!


So now that you’re set to deal with it, or it’s gotten worse, so you’ve done the smart thing and gone to see a health professional, you need to know what to do to avoid them in the first place.

Warm Up Properly

Ma touching his toes before exercising

Warming up is essential to exercise in and out of looking into a pulled muscle. There are far worse things that can happen if you don’t prepare your body for what you are about to demand from it. A pulled muscle is destined to happen if you don’t look after yourself and make sure that those muscles are in the best possible shape that they can be.

Don’t overuse

Man taking a rest in the gym between sets

Overuse of your muscles can also easily lead to a pulled muscle. You have to be taking time between your workouts to allow your body to recover and rebuild if you want to see your progress develop anyway. If you're applying the same strain day in day out with no added support, you're going to weaken the muscle gradually until it's inevitable. Train smart.


That’s about it for what you need to know about a pulled muscle. They may be one of the more common injuries, but they are usually preventable. Act as fast as you can and stop whatever it was you were doing in order to prevent further damage and see your GP if it gets worse.

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.