Should I stretch a "pulled" muscle?

Every now and then we run into the dreaded "pulled" muscle. When it happens, what do you do? If you're like most, you stretch it!


A muscle "pull", technically called a "strain", is an injury that can range from mild to severe. From a therapy stand point, the last thing you want to do to a strained muscle is over-stretch it creating more damage.


Steps to recovery:

1. Ice – Apply ice to the affected area for 15-20 minutes as soon as possible to control swelling. Do not place ice directly on the skin surface.


2. See your health care professional – An evaluation will determine the severity of the injury and the direction of care. Understand that each provider's focus is different. For example, a medical doctor often prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug vs a chiropractic doctor correcting mechanical aspects such as the joints and muscles.


3. Myofascial release – The severity of the injury will determine when specific muscle therapy will be applied. Myofascial release will realign and breakdown scar tissue, increase blood circulation, and increase lymphatic fluid flow.


4. Controlled dynamic movement – Your health care professional will advise you what movements will be helpful to restore range of motion.


5. Attentive return to activity – Again, the severity of the injury will determine the return to activity. Pay attention to functions such as range of motion, muscle strength, and muscle fatigue.


*When in doubt, always ask. Don’t allow injuries to become chronic and dysfunctional.

Should I stretch when I'm "warmed up"?

Body temperature affects the fluids that flow throughout our bodies. Fluids are more viscous (thicker therefore slower) when the body is cold.  And fluids are more fluid (smoother) when the body is warmed.


Therefore, it is more optimal for the muscles to be stretched when the body is warmed and fluids such as blood circulation, joint lubrication, and disc hydration are more fluid.

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