How to Treat an Overused Muscle Injury

Your muscles are strong, tough fibers. However, frequent use, strain and pressure can stretch your muscles too far, resulting in an overuse injury. This injury type is most common in your back and in the muscles in the back of your legs, which are subject to pressure while you exercise. Treating an overused muscle injury requires care not only to treat the immediate symptoms of muscle injury, but also lifestyle modifications to prevent future overuse injuries.

Ice eases muscle strain pain.

Step 1

Take your weight off the injury to rest the affected muscle area. Placing added strain can only worsen the overused muscle. If you have strained a leg muscle, elevating the affected area can help to reduce inflammation and swelling by encouraging blood flow back to the heart. Strategically placed pillows can cushion the leg and help to elevate it or support the natural curves of your back if you have experienced a back injury.

Step 2

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These medications help to shrink swollen blood vessels, reducing pain and swelling that can take place following injury.

Step 3

Apply an ice pack to the affected area. Always wrap ice or an ice pack in a protective cloth to prevent skin burns at the site of application. Leave on the skin for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove for 10 minutes and repeat. Continue to periodically apply ice between one and three days after the injury occurred.

Step 4

Consume significant amounts of lean proteins throughout your recovery period from sources like whey protein shakes, skinless chicken breast, unsalted nuts, peanut butter and turkey. Protein is required for muscle repair and lack of sufficient protein can slow your recovery process. Aim to consume a small protein serving with every meal or snack you have throughout your day.

Things You'll Need

  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen

  • Pillows

  • Ice or ice pack

Tip

Overuse injuries occur when you repeat the same exercise over and over. To prevent future injures, change up your exercise or daily routine. Replace a cycling, walking or elliptical training session with one running session or take frequent stretch breaks if you perform the same motion at work.

Warning

If your overused muscle injury does not respond to at-home treatments, see your physician who can evaluate you for a more serious injury. If left untreated, overused muscles can tear, which can necessitate surgical repair in severe instances. Avoid applying heat after the initial muscle injury, which can mask painful symptoms and cause blood vessels to swell instead of shrink. Heat can be applied, however, when your pain begins to decrease to help stretch the affected muscle region and keep it from becoming too tight.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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