Treatment focuses on restoring the muscle length. This reduces the force absorbed by the muscle. We will address the pain, inflammation, and guide you on how to reload and strengthen the muscle so you can make the swiftest possible recovery. All your muscles are made of the same substance, so whatever the cause of your muscle pain and wherever it may be, we will get to the root of it. There is no need to suffer.
Muscles can be damaged by tearing a few thousand of the million small muscle fibers that make up the muscle. Muscles attach to bone from a tendon. Thus every muscle has two tendons, one at the top and one at the bottom, and in the middle all the contactable muscle fibers.
Each person’s case is unique and we want to address your specific needs. If you would like us to investigate or provide some insight, we invite you to contact us us by following the link below.
Each person’s case is unique and we want to address your specific needs. If you would like us to investigate or provide some insight, we invite you to contact us by clicking the link below.
Causes of a muscle tear
- Overuse – A sudden high repetition of muscle contractions like increasing your running distance too fast.
- Overload – The muscle is subjected to sudden forceful contraction like increasing the leg curl machine too fast. You can just imagine if you jump from 20kg to 40kg in one week. The muscle won’t be able to keep up.
- Overstretch – Muscles are very weak in its stretched position. When the hamstring is forcibly stretched beyond its normal boundaries, the muscle will tear. Running downhills or on a incline will force the muscles to contract from its stretched position.
- Weakness – Muscle fatigue can play a role if you are not strong enough due to muscle not being able to sustain its contraction or stay contracted under load.
- Poor technique – During training (Wrong movement pattern), that can load the muscle incorrectly and stress certain fibers significantly more.
- Poor Management – Neglected injury that has not completely healed.
- Inadequate warm-up – A fast sudden contraction like a jump or start sprinting while the muscle is not prepared for it can put you at risk of tearing the muscle
- Excessive stretching – of the muscle against a force, for example during weight lifting like a deadlift, when the load is applied on both sides of the tendon, while it needs to contract and lengthen at the same time.
- Other bio-mechanical influences like-Poor support for your foot will cause muscle forces to concentrate along the inside of your leg, which loads those muscle fibers more that the outer part. This abnormal force on the inside of your leg will cause the fibers to fatigue faster.
3 Degrees of a Torn Muscle
Grade 1 muscle tear
A mild muscle tear, 10% of muscle fibers torn.
Only a few of the muscle fibers are torn. Less than 20%. These muscles are referred to as a pulled muscle.
It should heal within a week without treatment. If the pain hasn’t subsided in 3 days, give us a call so we can have a look at it and determine the damage.
Symptoms of a 1st degree muscle tear
- Able to continue playing (sport), able to move.
- Pain only at the end of range (when stretched)
- No loss of muscle strength
- Dull pain when stretched
- Little swelling
- No bleeding seen
- Unable to pinpoint it to one specific spot
Grade 2 muscle tear
Moderate muscle tear, 20% – 80% of muscle fibers torn.
Only 20% – 80% of the muscle fibers are torn. After swelling have disappeared (3 days) you should be able to feel a bump or dip where the most painful spot is.
Contact us A.S.A.P. The faster we have a look at it before the swelling and bleeding gets too much, we can determine where the tear was and how many muscles were torn.
Symptoms of a 2nd degree muscle tear
- Hear a pop or snap when it happens.
- Unable to continue play (sport), have to stop moving.
- Pain through movement
- Loss of muscle strength
- Sharp pain when stretched
- Little to severe swelling
- With or without bleeding under skin
- Able to pinpoint it to one specific spot
Grade 3 muscle tear
Severe muscle tear, resulting in the muscle being torn to pieces
The muscle has been torn right through (100% of fibers affected), leaving the muscle in two separate pieces.
Contact us immediately! The faster we have a look at it before the swelling and bleeding gets too much, we can determine where the tear was and how many muscles were torn.
Depending on the muscles affected, surgery will be required to attach the separate muscle pieces.
Symptoms of a 3rd degree muscle tear
- Hearing a loud pop, snap when it happens.
- Unable to continue playing, have to stop moving
- Sever pain through the movement
- Able to contract the muscle, but no movement occurs
- Severe pain when stretched
- Always swelling
- Always considerable amount of bleeding under skin
- Able to pinpoint and see the muscle tear
- Gap or bump visible
Diagnosis of a muscle tear
Our physiotherapists are experts at detecting a muscle tear because we spend 11 hours a day working on soft tissue, forgive us to say “we just have the feeling for it”. Lets be serious, the best way to confirm a muscle tear is to see it, measure the width, depth and length of the tear by using a Sonar or Ultrasound (Diagnostic Sonar).
In some cases we may refer you for an X-ray to exclude any bone pathology, but this is rare.
Any MRI will be very excessive,and is definitely not necessary to confirm a torn muscle, its way too expensive.
What you shouldn’t do
Don’t apply any heat.
Heat will dilate the small arteries in the muscle causing blood to bleed out into the tissue, which will make the situation worse.
Don’t stretch the muscle.
The muscle will be activated by your bodies normal protective mechanisms and contract the muscle. The more you stretch it, the more your body will try to counteract against it and try to keep the muscle in a shortened position. If you stretch through the pain, you will probable only tear more fibers.
Anti-inflammatory medications are not recommended, especially in the first 48 hours as they are thought to delay healing
Don’t do any resistance training (weights).
If you contract or shorten the muscle while putting load on it you will feel a sharp pain, that is the muscle tearing even more.
Do not ignore muscle pain that gets worse.
It can be a sign of a bigger problem, Contact us a.s.a.p. The faster we have a look at it before the swelling and bleeding gets too much, we can determine where the tear is and distinguish which of the muscles are torn.
What you should do
Early Stage (First 48 hours)
When you have a torn muscle we recommend you follow this regiment to treat, rest and exercise the muscle.
Stay off the muscle for at least 72 hours (3 days). Crutches, sling, brace, splint might be necessary to prevent further injury to the muscle.
Don’t move into any position that causes pain, that includes not putting weight on the leg or carrying something in your hands.
Ice cubes in a towel, then wet the towel and keep on for nothing less than 10 minutes up to 15 minutes (Repeat 3 times, 60 minutes apart).
When applying the ice, try to tie the towel tightly around the body part. Apply a crepe bandage to support the muscle (not too tight to cut off blood supply).
Lie down and keep the muscle above the level of your heart, to help for the swelling to run back into circulation.
Contact us so we can determine when it’s safe to start regular training again.
Intermediate Stage (48 hours)
Heat can be very effective in treating pain originating from muscles, causing an increase in blood supply to the area to relax the muscle fibers. Wrap a warm water bottle around a damp towel (dampen to increase conduction of heat energy) apply for 3 x 20 minute intervals. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Ice in a stretched position.
Ice must be applied when the muscle fibers are in a stretched position, not in a shortened position.
Dynamic stretches are more effective and safer than static (hold) stretches. A dynamic stretch involves stretching the muscle fibers into and out of resistance. Never stretch into or force through the pain!
Monitor your Calcium and Magnesium levels. Adequate supplements can be found in stores.
Consult your GP in your guidance to take preventative medication or muscle relaxants.
Why isn’t my muscle pain going away?
If you are asking yourself ‘why is it taking so long for the pain to go away’ then you might want to consider the following. When the muscle tears the body attempts to repair the injured fibers by sending cells to re-attach the torn ends of the fibers. It reacts similar to repairing an open wound. Like having a cut at the bottom of your foot. If you keep on walking on it, you will shear away the cells that are trying to healing and close the wound. The more you walk or run through the pain, the longer it will take to heal.
If the pain returns every time you start training or moving again, you have missed the most vital aspect of the cause of the muscle tear. The muscle length must return to its normal length before you return to participating. If you take a few days off and the pain in the calf is gone (usually 3 days) when you try training again, the pain just returns. If the muscle length is not restored, you will rip the wound wide open and start from the beginning again. This is the most common reason why patients consult us.
If you are taking anti-inflammatory medication for the a muscle tear, STOP taking them. Inflammation is the bodies natural way of healing the injured muscle fibers. The medication is preventing this process from taking place, not to mention the masking effect of the trauma on the tissue if you return to training while still taking anti-inflammatory medications.
Physiological detail of how the muscle heals
Regardless of the underlying cause, the processes occurring in injured muscles tend to follow the same pattern. The rate of recovery varies from one type of injury to another and the magnitude at which your body is capable of restoring itself. You are like Wolverine — you regenerate.
The destruction phase starts with the actual trauma that causes muscle fibers to tear. Immediate necrosis of microfibers takes place due to deterioration of the sarcoplasm, a process that is halted within hours after the trauma by lysosomal vesicles forming a temporary membrane. An inflammatory process takes place as a reaction on the torn blood vessels. Specialized cells start removing dead cells and parts of the fibers that was damaged.
In the repair and remodeling phase, the actual repair of the injured muscle takes place. Microfibers start regenerating out of satellite cells (= undifferentiated reserve cells) and a connective tissue scar is being formed in the gap between the torn muscle fibers. In the first 10 days after the trauma, this scar tissue is the weakest point of the affected muscle. After 10 days however, eventual re-rupture will rather affect adjacent muscle tissue than the scar tissue itself, although full recovery (up to the point of pre-injury strength) can take a relatively long time.
Vascularisation of the injured area is a prerequisite for recovering from a muscle injury. New blood vessels grow from around the injured blood vessels and find their way to the center of the injured area. Early mobilization plays a very important role since it stimulates the blood vessel growth and supply cells to to repair the injured cells. nerves inside the muscle will regenerate to re-establish the nerve-muscle contact.
Physiotherapy treatment of muscle tears
- Kinesiology Tape
- Rigid Strapping or taping
- Neurodynamics (Nerve tissue mobilizations)
- Dynamic Strapping
- Strengthening exercises
- Guided loading protocol
- Stretches (Static, dynamic and ballistic)
- Moon boot
- Compression Bandage or Sleeve
- Supportive strapping and taping
- Biomechanical Analysis
- Gait Analysis
Torn muscles we see daily
People involved in regular gym work damage muscles and are relatively common to get injured.
- Hamstring muscles – Hamstring muscle tear (Semimembranosus & Semitendinosus muscles)
- Quad muscles – Quadriceps muscle tear (Quadriceps muscles in the front of the thigh)
- Calf muscles – Calf muscle tear (Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles)
- Groin muscles – Adductor muscle strain (Adductor Magnus, Adductor Longus, Adductor brevis)
- Shoulder muscle – Rotator Cuff muscle strain (Supraspinatus, Infraspinatus, Subscapularis)