Whether you didn’t warm up properly or took an intense leap a long jumper would be proud of over that puddle during your run, pulled muscles unfortunately happen. Usually they result from trying to outperform your bodies capabilities, or pushing yourself when you’re too tired - something to be mindful of when training. Or sometimes, you do everything exactly right and they just somehow happen.
So if you’re reading this post then chances are you’ve pulled a muscle during your latest workout and are wondering what to do. First and foremost you probably remember the good old RICE principles you were taught at school, well this has changed slightly with an important addition and is now PRICE:
P - protect from further injury. Stop what you’re doing immediately, don’t try and test yourself.
R - rest or restrict activity around the injured area for 48-72 hours
I - ice, apply ice for 15 minutes every hour as able
C - compression. Consider using a bandage or tubigrip to help support the area and limit swelling
E - elevate the injured area to help reduce or minimise swelling
Now before you chuck your trainers out of the window because you’ve pulled a muscle, stop and think about what else you’re able to do in the meantime. If you’ve pulled your hamstring for example, your usual running programme isn’t going to work but you could use your training time for some upper body workouts or to spend time doing that “runner’s core workout” that your friend recommended but never got round to. Try to think of things that would complement your sport, approach this as an opportunity to break out of your routine and mix up your training.
When can I return to sport?
Without a scan there’s no way of knowing with 100% accuracy how bad the strain is, however a good physiotherapist can give you an idea of how long you might be out of running and how to gradually ease yourself back into rehab and your usual training routine with minimal setbacks. Please be aware that every injury is different and what has worked for your running partner might not be right for you!
*This article is not meant as a substitute for medical assessment or treatment. Seek professional medical assistance if you are injured.