More likely than not, if your child is participating in any type of sport they will experience a muscle strain at some point. Pulls, strains, and tears are just ranges in severity of the same thing and they range from a grade 1 to grade 3. Grade 1 means the injury hurts but you can still move the muscle without too much trouble and it could heal in less than a week. Grade 3 means the muscle has ripped clean off of your tendon or bone and you’ll probably need surgery to reattach it. For the most part, going to a specialist or doctor won’t be all that necessary for a grade 1 pull, but if the muscle is no longer functioning or they are in severe pain, you should get them evaluated by a professional very quickly.
Here are a few tips when treating a muscle pull or strain:
- R.I.C.E. method- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. A bag of frozen veggies like peas works great for sore muscles. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the area in pain is raised off the floor, so if you are icing a sore hamstring, prop it up on the couch under a few pillows before placing on the ice pack.
- Watch for bruising- bruising can mean a more severe strain because it indicates that blood is pooling beneath the surface of the skin at the area in question. This is a tell-tale sign that something more critical is happening and you should see a specialist right away.
- Don’t stretch it! Roll it!- a high density foam roller is the best way to massage out a strain or pull. Stretching an already sore and damaged muscle can cause more micro tears in the muscle and potentially lead to greater damage. A foam roller is a great investment for any age and level of athleticism. An inexpensive one can be purchased on Amazon for under $20- check out this one!
- Evaluate what went wrong- outside of a trip and fall, most muscle strains that occur from overuse and imbalances. For chronic injuries, a trip to a physical therapist is not a terrible idea. They will be able to give you an evaluation and suggest alternative exercises to strengthen areas that can help to avoid future issues.