The Most Strained Muscles Are…

Muscle strain happens when the tiny fibers that make up muscle and/or tendon begin to tear, mostly due to overextension or unnatural movements. These small tears can happen during normal daily activities, during sports, when lifting things, or while performing routine or repetitive tasks. They typically happen as a result of overuse, inadequate rest breaks during intensive training or sporting activities, or through over stretching or excessive muscle contraction.

A sprain, by comparison, is a stretch or tear of a ligament (the connective tissue that joins one bone to another). Sprains typically happen when you land on an outstretched arm, jump and land on the side of your feet, or run on an uneven surface.

The most commonly strained muscles in the body are 

the hamstrings (back of your thigh), gastrocnemius (calfs), groin and lower back (muscles that support your spine).  Muscles that cross two joints are at the greatest risk. Hamstring strains are the most likely to reoccur.


Symptoms of muscle strain include:

  • Swelling, bruising or redness, or open cuts due to the injury
  • Weakness of the muscles or tendons around it
  • Pain when the muscle is at rest
  • Pain when the specific muscle or the joint in relation to that muscle is used
  • Inability to use the muscle at all

After the strain

RICEAfter injury, the muscle is weaker and at risk for further injury so it’s important to take action quickly. Strains can mostly heal on their own when you apply the RICE treatment. (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).  These steps reduce swelling and give muscles the chance to repair themselves naturally.  In severe cases, a strain leads to muscle rupture, which is when the muscles separates entirely from itself or the tendons that connect it to bone.  Ruptures usually require surgery to fix.

Preventing strain

Your risk of getting muscle strain increase if you have already tight or overworked muscles, you’re tired, it’s cold outside, or you play vigorous sports activities that involve running, lifting and or jumping.

To reduce your chances of getting a muscle strain, you should warm up and stretch before vigorous exercise, especially if the muscle has been previously injured. You should also work muscles regularly, so the fibers are stronger and less likely to tear.  Finally, stop exercise when you are tired.  Tired muscles don’t function well and don’t react well to sudden stress.


If you’re particularly active, or you’ve been inactive for a while and are about to begin an exercise program, massage therapy is a great way to keep muscles invigorated, keep joints flexible and maintain good range of motion.  All these elements help increase overall wellness and reduce the likelihood of strain.