Understanding the Different Types of Muscle Strains and Tears

Many athletes will suffer from some form of muscle tear during their lifetime. Very often they are a little confused as to what brought on the event. They will have questions around the severity of it, why it happened to them and what they might need to do to recover. This blog will take a closer look at the 3 distinct types of muscle tears, and the recovery timeline.

The Two Categories

Essentially there are two main categories for which muscle strains and tears fit into:

  • Chronic Overuse Strain
  • Cumulative Injury Cycle

During the cumulative injury cycle the athlete will overuse injuries and pain will occur. This is not limited to any one particular form of exercise, just anything that you do on a repeated basis. The chronic cycle will start with you overworking particular muscle groups. This could be something as simple as sitting for two long a period of time, or long-distance running. Of course, these are just a couple of examples, there are plenty more situations which overuse strain can occur. Tight muscles lead to excessive friction points, which in turn puts pressure on other areas of the muscle group. The next stage is a reduction in oxygen flow to the affected area, which in turn leads to a build-up of swelling. This continues until the body sends out it’s alarm system that something is wrong.

Grade 1 Muscle Strain

During a grade 1 muscle strain you are likely to feel a degree of discomfort. This will be above and beyond normal training fatigue. The can sometimes be small tears to the muscle fibres. Generally, the pain levels are quite mild, and you may or may not have swelling of the affected area. Recognising this as a grade 1 muscle strain you should look to rest up and follow the proven R.I.C.E technique. It is likely that you will recover from this type of strain in around 2-3 weeks.

Grade 2 Muscle Strain

If you are unlucky enough to experience a grade 2 muscle strain the it is very likely that you will know about it. More of the muscle fibre will be torn, but not completely. Often there will be bruising and certainly swelling which will indicate the affected area. Movement will be difficult and there will be an increased feeling of pain. It is vital that you undertake the R.I.C.E method to give the affected area the best possible treatment. In addition to this it is also likely that you will need to seek some form of medical assistance for the pain at least. Recover here will vary, but you can expect to be out of action for 2–4 weeks.

Grade 3 Muscle Strain

This is without question the most serious of the 3 grades of strain. In most cased pretty much all of the muscle is torn, and in extreme cases the entire muscle might be torn off completely. Bruising, tenderness, swelling and a degree of pain will all factor in your newly acquired grade 3 muscle strain.

A consultation with a qualified physician is a necessity before you can attempt to begin the (long) road to recovery. It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take for a full recover. However, you can expect a significant layoff as your muscle needs considerable time to rebuild and repair.