Caitlin Cavarra Raymond, PT, DPT, OCS
What To Do If You Just Pulled a Muscle....
Updated: Feb 11, 2022
PRICE is out....PEACE and LOVE is in!
If you just experienced an injury to your soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament), such as spraining an ankle, straining your calf muscle or pulling a muscle in your back....just resting is not the best option! Read below about what it means to give your injury PEACE and LOVE.
It's important to unload the area that is injured, by avoiding aggravating movement sbut not resting fully. This is important to minimize the bleeding and reduce aggravating the injury further, yet too much rest can reduce tissue strength and quality.
Elevating the limb higher than the heart removes the interstitial fluid out of tissues and back to the circulation system. This may reduce the swelling of the injured area and reduce your pain.
Our bodies repair the injured tissue through the phases of inflammation, so taking medications that reduce the body's natural way of healing can slow the process.
Applying pressure, taping or wrapping can reduce edema and tissue bleeding. This may also reduce pain as it activates mechanoreceptors around the site.
An active recovery is the way to go. Passive modalities like e-stim, cryotherapy and manual therapy may be beneficial early on, but the more you can return to activity and exercises the better off you will be long-term. It's also important to understand your injury and the expected timeline of recovery.
After the first few days following an injury...the tissues need LOVE.
Soft tissue needs mechanical stress to repair, remodel and build tissue to adapt to what your body needs. Optimal load will be ideal so you do not exacerbate pain. Returning to normal activities is encouraged.
Being optimistic about your recovery promotes better outcomes and a quicker prognosis. Most tissues do heal with time.
Cardiovascular activity brings blood flow to the injured structures which can speed the healing process. Aerobic exercise (think running, biking, brisk walking) improves our mood and naturally reduces pain through the release of endorphins.
There is strong evidence for all types of soft tissue injuries to use exercise to recover fully. Exercises may focus on mobility, strength or proprioception to return to your previous activity without risk of re-injury. Getting stronger=more resilient!
Hope this helps if you happen to sustain a soft tissue injury, but hopefully you won't! Give it some PEACE for a few days, then LOVE to help fully recover. If you are unsure of the best way to exercise or when you can safely return to your sport or activity that you love...a Physical Therapist will help guide you through this recovery process. Email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call (615. 982. 4062) today and we can get you started on this healing process!
References Duchesne E, Dufresne SS, Dumont NA. Impact of inflammation and anti-inflammatory modalities on skeletal muscle healing: From fundamental research to the clinic. Phys Ther Sport2017;97: 807-17.
Singh DP, Barani Lonbani Z, Woodruff MA, et al. Effects of topical icing on inflammation, angiogenesis, revascularization, and myofiber regeneration in skeletal muscle following contusion injury. Front Physiol2017;8: 93.
Lewis J, O’Sullivan P. Is it time to reframe how we care for people with non-traumatic musculoskeletal pain? Br J Sports Med2018;epub ahead of print, 25 June 2018.