A muscle tear is an acute injury caused by a laceration of the muscle cells/fibres and or tendon to which the muscle is attached to.
A muscle tear happens when we overload a muscle.
Overload muscles are common to find in repetitive movement, and or when a muscle is overcompensating, due to a weak pattern.
For example, tearing a hamstring is really common when the Gluteal Firing pattern is not correct.
This type of injury is common in sports activities but can happen also within a home environment, by lifting a box the wrong way or during garden activities.
Said so, there are 3 grades of muscle tear.
Grade 1 muscle tear is the mildest one.
As per this case, only a small amount of muscle cells have been torn.
Symptoms are like:
- mild pain,
- moderate swelling,
- none or light bruising.
In grade 2 there is already a moderate amount of muscle cells that have been damaged.
Symptoms are like:
- Bruising is now more evident as per the swelling
- You must luckily hear a sound, as the tear happens
- More severe pain especially when trying to use that muscle.
Grade 3 is the worst-case scenario. In grade 3 muscle tear, the muscle has fully torn.
- Still, a pop or a sound would happen as the tear happens.
- On the opposite side of where the muscle did lacerate, you will notice a bulge as the muscle coiled up after tearing.
- Weakness in using the limb where the muscle got torn.
In case of a Grade 3 muscle tear, surgery is needed to reattach the muscle.
How to treat a muscle tear?
The immediate appliance of heat or cold packs is highly debated.
A cold pack would numb the area and help with the pain symptoms.
As mentioned in the “Ice Pack” blog post that is actually recommended.
On the other hand, a heat pack would help in stimulating blood circulation in the affected area and reduce the swelling and boost the recovery.
Even though you may wanna start applying a heat pack when the injury is past the acute phase (48hours).
In terms of massage treatments, MLD can be the only technique that can be used as soon as the tear does happen.
Indeed MLD would be highly recommended for boosting the recovery, especially in case of a tear in 3rd grade, where operation is needed.
Said so, in case of 3rd-grade muscle tear, the first thing to do is to see a doctor.
Other massage techniques such as Remedial Massage and Thai Massage are still valuable techniques to consider for a muscle tear.
On the other hand, either Remedial or Thai Massage can’t be practised till 48 hours of rest are passed after the incidents.
Indeed that 48 h are considered the acute phase of the muscle tear.
In order then to prevent further injury during the massage as therapists we will always look in too the body’s responses and pain feedback.
The area of focus will be not only the muscle that got torn but even the surrounding area.
Initially, the technique used along with a massage treatment, especially for the area injured, would be MFTT and passive movement/mobilisation.
That would help the muscle recovery and would facilitate joint mobility, reducing then the muscle’s load.
Going ahead with the treatments, techniques such as MET which is a resisted muscle force technique can be used.
This would allow the muscle to gain elasticity.
If you are suspicious of a muscle tear and you are in need of treatment, book your next session by clicking here.