Pulling a muscle is not that uncommon, especially if you’re involved in strenuous activities or regular exercise.
There are many ways of working on a pulled muscle so he heals faster, but should you massage a pulled muscle?
In this article, I’m going to explain the benefits and risks of massaging a pulled muscle to maximize your recovery:
Why Do We Get Pulled Muscles?
Before we get into whether or not you should massage a pulled muscle, let’s first understand why we get them.
Pulled muscles usually happen when there’s an overly sudden and forceful contraction of the muscle fibers.
This can be from something as innocuous as sneezing too hard to more strenuous activities like playing sports or weightlifting.
The muscle fibers are overstretched and tear, which then leads to inflammation, pain, and swelling.
It’s important to know that a pulled muscle is different from a sprain. A sprain is when the ligaments that connect two bones are overstretched or torn.
This is usually from a twisting motion and results in pain, swelling, and bruising.
Now that we know the difference, let’s get into whether or not you should massage a pulled muscle.
Should You Massage a Pulled Muscle?
There are both risks and benefits to massaging a pulled muscle.
On the one hand, massage can help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation.
This, in turn, can speed up the healing process.
However, there is also the risk of further damaging the muscle fibers if you massage too hard or in the wrong way.
It’s important to be gentle and avoid putting too much pressure on the pulled muscle.
You should also avoid massaging the area if it’s bruised or swollen.
The bottom line is that you should massage a pulled muscle only if you’re confident you can do so without further damaging the muscle.
Personally, I would leave massaging a pulled muscle to a professional massage therapist.
It’s just not worth aggravating the injury or making it worse. You can just as easily set your recovery time back as far as you can bring it forward.
When Should You Not Massage a Muscle?
There are a few times when you should avoid massaging a muscle, even if it isn’t pulled.
If the muscle is bruised or swollen, then massage can actually make things worse by breaking up the blood vessels and causing more bleeding and bruising.
You should also avoid massage if the skin is broken as this can lead to infection.
A complete rupture is a contraindication for massage as well.
This is when the muscle fibers are completely torn and require surgery to repair.
Finally, you should avoid massage if there is any tingling, numbness, or weakness in the limb.
This could be a sign of nerve damage and massage will only aggravate the condition.
When in doubt, always consult with a doctor or physiotherapist before trying to massage a pulled muscle.
Again, a professional massage therapist, sports therapist, or physio are qualified to make the decision based on your exact injury.
What Is the Best Type of Massage for A Pulled Muscle?
The best type of massage is going to depend on your exact injury.
For example, if you have a minor muscle strain, then a light Swedish massage will do the trick.
This is a gentle form of massage that uses long, smooth strokes.
If you have a more severe muscle injury, then deep tissue massage may be necessary.
This is a more intense form of massage that uses deep, focused pressure to release knots and tension in the muscle.
As with any type of massage, be sure to communicate with your massage therapist about your injury and what type of pressure you’re comfortable with.
Never hesitate to speak up if the massage is too painful.
The last thing you want is to further damage the muscle by having a massage that’s too intense.
There you have it!
Now you know everything you need to know about massaging a pulled muscle.
Remember, always consult with a doctor or physiotherapist before trying to massage a pulled muscle on your own.
And if you do decide to go ahead with it, be sure to use light pressure and avoid any areas that are bruised or swollen.
Header Photo by Klara Kulikova on Unsplash
I’m a MA, (CMT) Certified Massage Therapist, Licensed Massage Therapist (LMT), and Reiki Master — I’m a licensed massage therapist with over 10 years of experience in the industry.