How to Avoid Muscle Strains

Young female athlete sitting on excercising mat and stretching in a parkWhether you exercise regularly or just every so often, your muscles can become strained. When this happens, you might experience pain and swelling in the affected area. You might also have muscle spasms. While muscle strains can usually be treated at home, more severe cases might require orthopedic care. In order to reduce your risk of straining your muscles, it’s important to take the following precautions. 


Keep Your Muscles in Shape

Your muscles are less likely to become strained if you condition or strengthen them. Doing so means that your muscles are better able to handle the physical demands of regular exercise. When your muscles are weak, they’re more prone to pulling and straining, as well as tears and other injuries. 


Spend Time Warming Up

Going from being sedentary to running, lifting weights or doing another physical activity can put a lot of stress on your muscles. Before you work out, spend time warming up with simple stretching exercises. These prepare your muscles for increased physical activity by improving blood flow to your muscles and making their temperature higher. When your muscles are warmed up, you’ll also feel less stiff while working out and you’ll have greater flexibility. 


Cool Down After Working Out

Giving your muscles a chance to cool down after physical activity is just as important as warming them up. You can do this by stretching slowly and holding that position for roughly 30 seconds. Cooling down helps loosen your muscles up, leading to a lower risk of strain and stiffness. When you don’t take time to cool down, your muscles can remain tight, which makes them easier to strain or pull. 


Let Your Muscles Heal

If you’ve suffered a muscle injury, taking time to let it heal before working out helps reduce your chance of straining it. Mild strains usually need to heal for up to three weeks, while more serious ones could take up to six months to fully heal. Keep in mind that if you’re dealing with chronic muscle strain or have a severe case of acute strain, orthopedic care might help you heal faster. 


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