Uncovering the Facts of Different Types of Muscle Strains
Have you ever experienced a muscle strain? What is a muscle strain, anyway?
A muscle strain is an uncomfortable injury or trauma to the belly of a muscle. Minor strains often result in a stretch to the muscle, like pulling a rubber band. More severe strains can overstretch the muscle to the point where the muscle can have a partial or even complete tear. Strains often occur in the low back or hamstring muscles1, but any muscle in the body is vulnerable to a strain injury!
Strain injuries do not discriminate. Many athletes, active lifestyle, and sedentary individuals suffer from muscular strains. They can occur in various scenarios ranging from repetitive or overuse injuries like running or throwing a baseball, or sudden onset situations such as lifting a heavy box while moving. Many people often describe a muscle strain as feeling like a “pulled” muscle, and they are not wrong – a muscle strain often results from a muscle being pulled too hard by outside forces2!
While strains occur to muscles, they have a cousin you may know as well: the sprain. Sprains have a similar stretching mechanism of injury, but sprains happen to ligaments instead of muscles. For the sake of this article, we will keep it simple and discuss muscular strains; however, an injury is sometimes also considered a sprain/strain because there may be a strain to the muscle and a concurrent sprain of ligaments at the joint.
Muscular strains can be put into two categories: chronic overuse, and acute traumatic strains.
An overuse strain can be confusing at first because there is no single “event” that can be pinpointed that resulted in pain or injury. A traumatic strain injury, on the other hand, often has a single and significant event results in injury; think of lifting a TV and suddenly, your low back goes into spasm! Ouch!