How to Recover From a ‘Pulled Muscle’

December 17th, 2019

A muscle strain or “pulled muscle” is damage to a muscle or its attaching tendons. If you perform a movement that requires more force than the muscle can absorb, the muscle fibers or tendons attached to the muscle can tear. This tearing of muscle fibers can damage blood vessels causing bleeding or bruising which can irritate nearby nerve endings.


  • Pain at rest
  • Pain that worsens when that specific muscle is used
  • Weakness of muscle or tendon
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or redness

How to Treat a Muscle Strain at Home?

Phase 1: P.R.I.C.E.

Protect the strain from further injury

Rest and avoid painful activities

Ice the injured area to reduce swelling

Compress the damaged muscle gently

Elevate the injured area to decrease swelling and pain

Phase 2: Eccentric Strengthening

Research suggests that for muscle strains, it is best to perform eccentric strengthening exercises once tolerated.

Eccentric Strengthening – An eccentric muscle action is the overall lengthening of a muscle as it develops tension and contracts to control motion of an outside force. For example, your calf muscle shortens to rise onto your toes but lengthens to control your descent. The lowering phase is an eccentric contraction. 

  • Example Exercises
    • Stiff leg deadlifts
    • Eccentric hamstring lowering
    • Split squats

Phase 3: Plyometric and Sports Specific Activities

The next phase involves higher velocity movements which include plyometric and sport specific exercises. Examples include

  • Squat jumps,
    • Split jumps
    • Bounding and depth jumps
    • Sport specific progressions

Warning: Do NOT progress on any exercises if you are having pain.

If you end up with a muscle strain or ligament sprain, physical therapy can help. If your injury does not get better on your own, call Respire TODAY at 571-265-9570!


Lorenz D, Reiman M. The role and implementation of eccentric training in athletic rehabilitation: tendinopathy, hamstring strains, and acl reconstruction. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2011;6(1):27–44.

Miller J. Eccentric Strengthening. PhysioWorks.

Muscle Strain. The Basics of Muscle Strains.

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