Thursday, July 02, 2009

muscle pull myth

Muscle pulls and tears are common in most sports. Whether it's groin pulls in hockey or hamstring pulls in sprinters, muscle pulls happen to the best of us despite whatever rigorous stretching and warm-up program we follow. How do we treat muscle pulls? The first thing that pops into most athlete's heads = STRETCHING.


Most of us, including myself, have been brainwashed into thinking that stretching is the best treatment method. By adding some logic the equation however, one can how it's a little counter-intuitive. Simple question to ask yourself:

Why would want to stretch out a muscle that is already pulled and lengthened excessively?

The answer is you wouldn't. Ironically in my three clinical rotations as a DPT student, I have seen several doctors writing prescriptions reading as follows: Pulled xyz... Stretch and Strengthen xyz.... This treatment method does not work, the patient never gets better.

In an acute muscle pull, the tissues are often inflamed and have been stretched beyond the normal anatomical length. Stretching will prolong this inflammation and only make the condition worse. What do you do then you might ask?

1. Control and reduce the inflammation via use of heat, ice, electrical stim, or ultrasound. (pick whatever works for you)
2. GENTLE strengthening once the inflammation has subsided
3. No Stretching until healed!

It doesn't take a doctorate degree to figure this one out :) Anyway, thought I would share some lessons from a day in the life of a PT student. Happy training to all and happy 4th! I'm off to Pcola to spend the weekend with Scott.

P.S . I'm up to 2.5 miles today at an 8 minute pace. Gotta start somewhere!


  1. Very interesting post. Guess its time to start using foam roller more often :)

  2. Great, now I have a DPT resource for all my aches and pains;) IMFL 2008 was my first ironman so it holds a special place in my heart. Loved it!

    Magnus is a pathetic mess. Poor guy!

  3. hey heidi! saw your name on marni's blog. looks like we have a lot in common! I'm a DPT and triathlete, graduated 2 years ago. where are you in school at? good luck healing, its great knowing your stuff to help yourself heal! good luck!

  4. good advice. I am a PT, and stretched myself into a near common hamstring avulsion injury. Duy.
    Live and learn. I tell most women that their injury/issue has more to do with mm imalance/weakness than lack of flex. Yogi's may not agree, but clinical experience shows this ....glad you are healing up. Yea, get a new ortho!

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