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How Do You Reduce The Likelihood Of Muscle Strains While Lifting Weights And How Do You Treat Them If They Occur?

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Muscle strains are a common weightlifting injury due to all the force that's placed on the muscle when you're lifting heavy weights. Lifting a weight you're not ready for can cause your muscle fibers to tear, resulting in a strain. Straining a muscle is an unfortunate setback for weightlifters since it means you won't be able to work out for a while — you need to rest the muscle so that it can heal. To learn more about muscle strains, how you can prevent them while lifting weights and how you should treat them, read on. 

What Is a Muscle Strain?

Your muscles are composed of numerous fibers, and a muscle strain occurs when some or all of these fibers are torn. Muscles are attached to your bones by tendons, and you move your body by contracting or relaxing these muscle fibers in order to move the bones they're attached to. Muscle strains are a common injury in weightlifting because lifting heavy weights exerts a great deal of force on the muscle fibers, and that force can cause them to tear apart.

How Do You Reduce the Risk of a Muscle Strain While Lifting Weights?

The best way to reduce the risk of suffering a muscle strain while lifting weights is to warm-up well before you start. A quick warm-up workout helps increase blood flow to the muscle fibers, which relaxes them and enables them to stretch and contract more easily. You should also make sure to lift weights that you're safely able to handle — setting a new personal record by lifting a weight that's near the limit of your abilities can be risky, as your muscle fibers may not be strong enough to withstand the force the weight places on them.

How Do You Treat a Muscle Strain Caused by a Weightlifting Injury?

Most muscle strains are minor, and you can treat them easily at home. You'll need to rest the muscle in order to give it a chance to heal. This includes stopping any weightlifting movements that use that muscle — continuing to work out a strained muscle can cause more fibers to tear, worsening the injury. Using an ice pack on the strained muscle helps reduce pain and swelling while it heals.

However, an extreme muscle strain where all of the muscle fibers tear will require surgery in order to repair. Your muscle fibers can't knit themselves back together since they're no longer connected. You can often tell you've completely ruptured a muscle when the ends of the muscle retract back to the bones that they're connected to — the bunched-up muscle will look like two large lumps underneath your skin.

In order to surgically repair a torn muscle, an orthopedic medicine specialist will make a tiny incision in your skin near the muscle. They'll insert a small camera into the incision in order to see the torn muscle, and then suture the two torn ends of the muscle back together. Once they're connected again, the torn muscle will be able to heal naturally.

If you think that you've completely torn a muscle or if you have a strained muscle that doesn't seem to be getting better by resting it, schedule an appointment with an orthopedic medicine healthcare provider in your area. Treating your muscle strain as soon as possible will allow you to get back to working out sooner, which helps stop your muscle from weakening due to disuse and preserves your strength.