Strains or muscle pulls are a common injury, especially in athletic training, and can result in abdominal injuries. The abdominal wall is predominately muscular, comprising of the rectus abdominus, internal obliques and external obliques. Of these, the rectus abdominus is the most prominent, and is typically referred to as a “six pack.” It’s usually the rectus abdominus muscle (see insert) that’s injured; however, other muscles in the area can also be affected. Muscle pulls to the abdominal muscles are usually the result of a sudden violent contraction, overstretching or continuous overuse.
The signs and symptoms include:
- Tenderness over the bottom area of the rectus abdominus muscle;
- A sudden sharp pain in the abdominal muscle which would indicate a tear;
- A cramping sensation or tightness;
- An increase in pain when the abdominal muscles are contracted, especially while doing a crunch.
If the tear is significant, the symptoms can be prolonged and disabling. This is especially true if the tear occurs where the muscle attaches to the ribs, pelvic or pubis bone. In these cases, the injury may be re-aggravated continuously which can be self-limiting. Resting the abdominal area at the first sign of injury is a very important part of healing for this particular injury. This can minimize months of pain and/or possible surgery. To prevent this injury, a proper warm-up prior to training (which should include proper stretching exercises) is thought to decrease injuries from muscle pulls because the muscles are more extensible when the tissue temperature has been increased by one or two degrees.
For more information on Physio by Design in Woodbridge, click this link.