Avoid muscle strains with our guide to one of sport’s most common injuries
Muscle strains happen when muscle tissue is overstretched as a result of becoming overloaded, at which stage a breaking point is reached and it tears (or partially tears). Grade 1 involves only a small tear to less than 5% of the muscle fibres, requiring two to three weeks rest and gentle stretching and massage to realign the new scar tissue; grade 2 involves a partial tear of more fibres, requiring four to six weeks’ rest, stretching and re-strengthening; and grade 3 involves a complete rupture that may require surgery and up to three months of rehabilitation.
Four Ways To Prevent Muscle Strains
- Warm up and warm down properly. Increasing muscle temperature by one or two degrees before serious exercise reduces the risk of muscle strains. Sessions should last at least 20 minutes and involve stretching.
- Increase and maintain your muscle strength through weight training and traditional exercises. This lets your muscles function in a controlled way, which reduces over-stretching and overloading.
- Sort out your technique. An inefficient or unorthodox running, cycling or swimming action can put pressure on certain muscles and lead to a serious strain, which could put you on the sidelines for weeks.
- Check your diet. You need to make sure you eat enough carbs before and during a race to aid muscle contraction. A shortage of them will cause your muscles to fatigue and be more susceptible to injury.
Find out more about the best way to treat triathlon injuries