Muscle strains are a common musculoskeletal issue. Over half of athletes will encounter a muscle strain at some point in their career! You don’t have to be an athlete to develop a muscle strain, either; this musculoskeletal injury can occur in individuals who lift heavy equipment, engage in repetitive motions and activities, or even have poor posture sustained for long periods.
A muscle strain commonly referred to as a “pulled muscle” is a muscular injury that occurs when a muscle is stretched or torn beyond its normal limits. Think of a scenario like lifting a piano, picking a heavy printer off the floor, or being tackled during a rugby game. Muscle strains can happen during high-intensity activities like sports and activities as easily as running a marathon – or watching a marathon of movies while slouched on the couch.
Why do muscles become strained? Muscles are comprised of bands and bundles of soft tissue fibers that contract and elongate together. Take a pile of rubber bands and lay them out side-by-side. Practice bending and stretching the bands together. Our muscles work very similarly with stretch and tension!
Muscles are ultimately in charge of physical movement. Muscle contractions can help us move other portions of our bodies or interact with our surroundings. When a muscle is pushed past its anatomical limit, it can no longer withstand the pressure or stress and fractures.
Muscle strains can be acute, such as the stretching forces associated with whiplash after a vehicle accident, or chronic, such as coughing as a result of a long sickness. Because of our daily reliance on muscles, a variety of activities can induce muscle strain!