Many of our patients are surprised to hear about how easy it can be to pull a muscle… especially when you do something as simple as sneezing!
Have you ever pulled a muscle?
Chances are you have… and when you do, believe me, you’ll know about it!
Most people, including myself, don’t realise how detrimental pulling a muscle could be to our everyday lives.
In this blog post, you’ll discover just some of the ways you can pull a muscle… including how easy it is to pull a muscle and how to help yourself relieve the excruciating pain.
Sneezing, turning your neck suddenly, sleeping in an awkward position, moving to pick something up or even reaching for something that’s tricky to get to – are just a few of the things you can do every day to pull a muscle.
So... What Actually Happens When You Pull a Muscle?
Pulling a muscle is something I’m sure we’ve all done before… whether we’re done it badly and it’s stopped us from doing the things we love, or we’ve had a mild sprain and suffered some discomfort for a couple of hours.
When you pull a muscle, the pain can range from mild, like a minor neck strain you get from turning your head the wrong way, or the pain can be severe like a lower back injury that leaves you unable to walk for days.
You might experience a sudden onset of pain, soreness, bruising, stiffness, swelling and many more.
Pulling a muscle is often the term for something called a “grade 1 strain”, which is when you tear about 5% of the fibers in your muscle… causing the uncomfortable twinge we all know and hate.
Sounds scary… doesn’t it?
It doesn’t have to be, especially when you know how to help yourself.
Can I Pull A Muscle From Sneezing?
Believe it or not – yes.
I remember a few years ago, the week before my birthday, I sneezed and pulled a muscle in my lower back. I was in so much pain and completely unable to walk; I had to use my office chair with wheels to support me when I was moving around my home.
Don’t get me wrong, my family was very amused… but as embarrassing as it was, putting my back ‘out’ from sneezing makes total sense.
Sneezing is a forced, sudden and uncontrolled movement that my body simply was not prepared for. It’s this kind of sudden movement that often results in a pulled or strained muscle, because the body is forced into an action that it’s not ready for.
Whiplash Can Be a Great Example of Pulling your Back
The sudden rapid back and forth movement of the neck causes strain to the neck muscles, leaving you feeling achy, and your neck too painful to turn properly.
At the clinic, we typically see whiplash in patients after they’ve been in a car accident.
But I was not surprised to see a patient who walked into the clinic with a badly strained leg after playing football with his grandkids – his muscles weren’t prepared and warmed up properly, so the sudden quick movement of kicking the ball came as a shock to his body, straining the muscle in his leg.
Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a weightlifter or carrying anything heavy to pull a muscle.
CLICK HERE to read our FREE Back Pain Guide… it’s filled with our top tips and tricks to help you help yourself at home.
What Do I Do When I Pull a Muscle?
Helping to heal a pulled muscle is different for everyone because we all have different severities and different healing times.
If the muscle pain is severe – the kind that really does stop you from walking, or turning your neck at all… then you should see someone. Do not mess around with severe injuries and try to treat them at home yourself, or it might last even longer!
The advice that I’m about to give you is for mild muscle strain – the kind where you can still move, and you know you’ve done something wrong. As always, use your best judgement – go and seek help if you have any doubts whatsoever.
What is the RICE recovery method?
I’m going to break this down so you know what to do at all stages when you’ve pulled a muscle so you can get back to being 100% as soon as possible.
As soon as you know you’ve pulled a muscle – I highly recommend you use the tried and tested ‘RICE’ method.
This is a treatment that’s recommended to do within the first 24 hours of you pulling a muscle, and it can be a great way to help yourself.
This might be obvious.
The first thing you need to do is stop whatever it is you did that pulled your muscle in the first place. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people injure themselves (especially during exercise) and decide to just go ahead and push through the pain…
Pushing through the pain is something that is guaranteed to make any injury worse.
A question I get asked a lot is ‘when do I use ice and when do I use heat?’
The sooner you apply ice, the better!
Ice provides pain relief and helps minimise swelling, which is the primary purpose of ice.
It’s best to think of ice as a pain-reliever.
Do not apply ice directly to the skin, unless you want to deal with cold burns alongside a pulled muscle! Wrap this in a tea towel and then apply to the area.
Apply a soft bandage to the area to help support the pulled muscle and reduce the overall swelling, but make sure not to wrap the area so tightly that you restrict blood flow to the area.
Use your judgement of what tight is too tight for your body!
Whenever possible try and keep the injured muscle elevated, above the level of your heart when you can.
You can use pillows to help raise the pain point whilst you rest.
As a general rule, after doing the RICE method for a day, try and get moving as soon as possible the following day. I’m only talking about gentle movements that do not cause pain.
If anything causes pain – stop this immediately and continue with the RICE method.
How Can I Prevent Pulling a Muscle?
You don’t always need to rush off to a pharmacy and buy the ‘magic cure’ to rub on muscles or take painkillers, there is almost always a natural solution out there waiting for you to try.
Although the RICE method is not a guaranteed fix… it’s proven to help ease the pain and is a good place to start.
But preventing injuries such as pulled muscles is a lot easier than you may think.
By staying hydrated, you’re reducing the risk of cramp (which does cause muscle sprain) and you’re also looking after your blood sugar levels which can stop you feeling light-headed and dizzy!
By staying hydrated, you’re helping both your muscles and other aspects of your health.
Warm Up Properly
One vital thing you can do to prepare yourself for any kind of activity (it doesn’t have to just be exercise) can be to stretch…
Some simple warm up exercises can help elasticate the muscles and prevent further injury.
The last thing that you want to do is injure yourself… so remember not to do too much at once and listen to your body.
Whether you’re lifting something heavy, weightlifting or simply playing with the kids and grandkids, too much of something is definitely not always a good thing.
You can’t stretch your muscles without moving…
Like I said further up, muscle strain is caused when your body is not prepared for a sudden movement.
Try to build up your exercise and activity levels as weeks progress, this will allow you to build strength in your muscles and prevent things like muscle cramps, tension and aches.
Try to get into good, healthy habits as soon as possible – starting today.
In fact, you’ve picked one up already by reading this blog! In doing so, you’re going to give yourself the best chance of being active, happy, and healthy.
We’re Here To Help…
If you’re in pain and would like to talk to us about getting some help, some specialist advice, or if you are looking for a diagnosis, remember we are always here to help you.
We are safely offering both face-to-face appointments.
If you would like to get one of our limited slots, please click here to complete our enquiry form or CALL us on (512)261-8699
P.S. Do you know someone with aches in their knees, hips, or a really stiff lowerback?
Who do you know that is always telling you about their aches and pains? We would love to help them live a pain free life too.
That person could be someone who you live with, work with, or an extended friend or family member, who is maybe suffering with some kind of ache or pain that we can fix. It might even be someone you enjoy to cycle with.
Welcome to Body Balance Physical Therapy & Sports Performance's health blog about Lumbar Spine problems. Knowing the main parts of your lower back and how these parts work is important so you can learn to care for your back long term.
Two common anatomic terms are useful as they relate to the low back. The term anterior refers to the front of the spine. The term posterior refers to the back of the spine. The section of the spine that makes up the low back is called the lumbar spine. The front of the low back is therefore called the anterior lumbar area. The back of the lower spine is called the posterior lumbar area.
This article gives a general overview of the anatomy of the low back. It should help you understand: what parts make up the low back and how these parts work.
If your having lower back pain and you dont know where to start book an evelaution here Schedule an Appointment Now with one of our amazing physical therapist now!!
Lumbar Spine Anatomy The important parts of the lumbar spine include: bones and joints
nerves connective tissues muscles spinal segments. This section highlights important structures in each category.
Bones and Joints
The human spine is made up of 24 spinal bones, called vertebrae. Vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to form the spinal column. The spinal column is the body's main upright support. From the side, the spine forms three curves. The neck, called the cervical spine, curves slightly inward. The middle back, or thoracic spine, curves outward. The outward curve of the thoracic spine is called kyphosis. The low back, also called the lumbar spine, curves slightly inward. An inward curve of the spine is called lordosis.
Three Curves in Spine
The lumbar spine is made up of the lower five vertebrae. Doctors often refer to these vertebrae as L1 to L5. The lowest vertebra of the lumbar spine, L5, connects to the top of the sacrum, a triangular bone at the base of the spine that fits between the two pelvic bones. Some people have an extra, or sixth, lumbar vertebra. This condition doesn't usually cause any particular problems.
Each vertebra is formed by a round block of bone, called a vertebral body. The lumbar vertebral bodies are taller and bulkier compared to the rest of the spine. This is partly because the low back has to withstand pressure from body weight and from movements such as lifting, carrying, and twisting. Also, large and powerful muscles attaching on or near the lumbar spine place extra force on the lumbar vertebral bodies.
A bony ring attaches to the back of each vertebral body. This ring has two parts. Two pedicle bones connect directly to the back of the vertebral body. Two lamina bones join the pedicles to complete the ring. The lamina bones form the outer rim of the bony ring. When the vertebrae are stacked on top of each other, the bony rings form a hollow tube that surrounds the spinal cord and nerves. The laminae provide a protective roof over these nerve tissues.
A bony knob projects out at the point where the two lamina bones join together at the back of the spine. These projections, called spinous processes, can be felt as you rub your fingers up and down the back of your spine. Each vertebra also has two bony knobs that point out to the side, one on the left and one on the right. These bony projections are called transverse processes. The projections in the low back are broader than in other areas of the spine because many large back muscles attach and impart powerful forces on them.
Between the vertebrae of each spinal segment are two facet joints. The facet joints are located on the back of the spinal column. There are two facet joints between each pair of vertebrae, one on each side of the spine. A facet joint is made of small, bony knobs that line up along the back of the spine. Where these knobs meet, they form a joint that connects the two vertebrae. The alignment of the facet joints of the lumbar spine allows freedom of movement as you bend forward and back.
The surfaces of the facet joints are covered by articular cartilage. Articular cartilage is a smooth, rubbery material that covers the ends of most joints. It allows the ends of bones to move against each other smoothly, without friction.
On the left and right side of each vertebra is a small tunnel called a neural foramen. (Foramina is the plural term.) The two nerves that leave the spine at each vertebra go through the foramina, one on the left and one on the right. The intervertebral disc (described later) sits directly in front of the opening. A bulged or herniated disc can narrow the opening and put pressure on the nerve. A facet joint sits in back of the foramen. Bone spurs that form on the facet joint can project into the tunnel, narrowing the hole and pinching the nerve.
Neural Foramen Nerves
The hollow tube formed by the bony rings on the back of the spinal column surrounds the spinal cord. The spinal cord is like a long wire made up of millions of nerve fibers. Just as the skull protects the brain, the bones of the spinal column protect the spinal cord.
The spinal cord extends down to the L2 vertebra. Below this level, the spinal canal encloses a bundle of nerves that goes to the lower limbs and pelvic organs. The Latin term for this bundle of nerves is cauda equina, meaning horse's tail. Between vertebrae, two large nerves branch off the spinal cord, one on the left and one on the right. The nerves pass through the neural foramina of each vertebra. These spinal nerves group together to form the main nerves that go to the organs and limbs. The nerves of the lumbar spine (cauda equina) go to the pelvic organs and lower limbs.
Watch our very own Dr Nathan Everett, DPT explain how it all works togeather.
Orthopedic & Manual Physical TherapyConnective Tissues
Connective tissues are networks of fiber that hold the cells of the body together. Ligaments are strong connective tissues that attach bones to other bones. Several long ligaments connect on the front and back sections of the vertebrae. The anterior longitudinal ligament runs lengthwise down the front of the vertebral bodies. Two other ligaments run full-length within the spinal canal. The posterior longitudinal ligament attaches on the back of the vertebral bodies. The ligamentum flavum is a long elastic band that connects to the front surface of the lamina bones (just behind the spinal cord). Thick ligaments also connect the bones of the lumbar spine to the sacrum (the bone below L5) and pelvis.
A special type of structure in the spine called an intervertebral disc is also made of connective tissue. The fibers of the disc are formed by special cells, called collagen cells. The fibers may be lined up like strands of nylon rope or crisscrossed like a net. An intervertebral disc is made of two parts. The center, called the nucleus, is spongy. It provides most of the shock absorption in the spine. The nucleus is held in place by the annulus, a series of strong ligament rings surrounding it.
Two Parts of Intervertebral Disc Muscles
The muscles of the low back are arranged in layers. Those closest to the skin's surface, the superficial layer, are covered by a thick tissue called fascia. The middle layer, called the erector spinal, has strap-shaped muscles that run up and down over the lower ribs, chest, and low back. They join in the lumbar spine to form a thick tendon that binds the bones of the low back, pelvis, and sacrum. The deepest layer of muscles attaches along the back surface of the spine bones, connecting the low back, pelvis, and sacrum. These deepest muscles coordinate their actions with the muscles of the abdomen to help hold the spine steady during activity.
Low Back Muscles Spinal Segment
A good way to understand the anatomy of the lumbar spine is by looking at a spinal segment. Each spinal segment includes two vertebrae separated by an intervertebral disc, the nerves that leave the spinal column at each vertebra, and the small facet joints that link each level of the spinal column. The intervertebral disc separates the two vertebral bodies of the spinal segment. The disc normally works like a shock absorber. It protects the spine against the daily pull of gravity. It also protects the spine during heavy activities that put strong force on the spine, such as jumping, running, and lifting. The spinal segment is connected by two facet joints, described earlier. When the facet joints of the lumbar spine move together, they bend and turn the low back.
Many important parts make up the anatomy of the back. Understanding the regions and structures of the lumbar spine can help you be more involved in your health care and better able to care for your back problem. To learn what our patients have to say watch one of our testimonials here! Orthopedic & Manual Physical Therapy
Portions of this document copyright MMG, LLC.
Let's talk about exercise and back pain…
Last week I had a question asked by one of our patients, Mary, 58, from Lakeway… And it’s one that we get asked often at Body Balance Physical Therapy!!
“Is it ok to exercise when my back is hurting? I’ve just got into a good routine sticking to the gym and working out three times a week, and I really don’t want to stop…”
I get the frustration, and I also know that the thought of doing any movement at all when you’re going through some kind of pain might feel a little scary… You don’t want to run the risk of aggravating it any more in case it turns into something more serious.
You don’t want to go ‘too hard’ in the gym for fear you pull another muscle.
And you don’t want to wake up one day to find that you can no longer roll out of bed easily, walk down the road, or even drive because what you did, made it worse.
But don’t let that worry you too much – that’s rarely ever the case! An aching lower back doesn’t mean you’ve got to be housebound, with heat and ice packs until it magically disappears. You CAN keep moving! In fact, not moving at all can make your back pain worse! Here’s why…
If you suffer from lower back pain that comes and goes, gentle walking with exercises designed to improve lower back strength and movement added in, will make a big difference. Walking is a completely natural movement that keeps your joints mobile and muscles working – even those in your feet, lets, hips and torso – which play an important role in keeping the muscles in your back that hold you up right, strong.
Join us for our FREE webinars and workshops where one of our great doctors will go through how the back works and steps you can take today to make it feel better quick! Click below !
EVENTS / WEBINARS
Stretching combined with walking will improve your backs strength, flexibility and posture, which in turn, can help stop back pain from creeping up on you when you least expect it. What’s more, it can also reduce how painful it feels and how much it gets in the way of day to day life.
So here’s the important question to answer now that you know it 100% is ok to exercise even if you’ve got a bad back…
What exercise can you actually be doing? Because of course, too much exercise, or exercise that’s strenuous could make it worse or keep it hanging around longer.
Introducing Yoga. Even though there’s false beliefs around Yoga, like ‘you’ve got to be flexible’ etc., etc., etc… you can ditch those false beliefs behind because it’s for anyone! Let me tell you why – Yoga helps build strength.
Yoga requires you to concentrate on specific muscles in the body when holding poses – many of which improve back strength. When these muscles are stronger your back pain can be greatly reduced and is less likely to affect you as bad as it once did.
As well as strengthening, Yoga relaxes the body and reduces any tension in stress-carrying muscles (a.k.a your back!)
For people with lower back pain, stretching is important. Stretching the muscles in your legs actually help to increase range of movement in your hips, taking the stress off your lower back – which in addition increases blood flow, allowing nutrients to flow in, taking care of the muscles in your back.
It’s also one of the best forms of exercise to maintain and improve a healthy posture. Great for your back, stopping back pain in its tracks, and add to that it feels great when you can walk around confident and tall.
So there you have it, gentle walks and yoga. Both of these will help you gain back your strength in your back, so you can return to doing the exercise you love the most.
To help manage your pain Dr.Nathan Everett DPT has created this quick video to give you some inside tips! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO LIVE WITH THIS PAIN ANYMORE! Come in today and see us!
Schedule an Appointment Now
OK, I HAD to share this with you…
I received the most incredible email and photos this week from a patient of ours who only a year ago had been told her retirement plans, after working so hard for them, may in fact never become a reality.
How to Avoid the Trap of Back Pain Compromising Your Retirement Plans and Dreams… Retirement for many patients we see here at Body Balance means freedom to do what you want, when you want! You’ve worked so hard for it all your life and you’ve earned it!
Here’s just a few of the common retirement goals that our patients have shared with us: “When I retire I’m going to be more active, walk more, travel, spend more quality time with the family and my grandkids.”
I’m sure you’ve heard similar, and maybe you’re even planning the same for your retirement too? If so… keep reading!
There’s a common factor that we don’t take into consideration when planning our dreams than can often creep up on us – particularly in our 50s and 60’s…. And that’s the curse of back pain. So many of us have a lifestyle and jobs that involve a lot of sitting.
Whether this is on a computer, in an office or driving to and from work, its unavoidable! And our backs simply aren’t designed to take the pressure of sitting for so much of our lives. The thing is, when you’re younger you can “get away with it”. But here’s the thing, when we get older – it becomes hard to get away with this! Think of your body like a car – after so many years and miles of working hard, cars need a tuning up again to run smoothly. Well our bodies are exactly the same. So when was the last time you gave you’re body a complete check-up and tune-up? …
Ok, so back to Bridget (who has sent me her incredible photos) Bridget had a great career as a teacher – and a damn good one too, and had planned walking holidays far and wide with her husband for when they both retired.
Not long after she retired was when the most dreaded thing happened. ***BANG***. Back pain literally stopped her in her tracks.
Yes, Bridget had suffered with the odd aches and pains in her back over the years when she sat too long, but that’s quite normal right?
Those aches and pains are your bodies’ way of letting you know something’s not right and you need a "Tune-up".
After repeatedly being told by her physician “it's just ‘wear and tear’, keep taking pain killers” … Bridget came to us desperate to keep her dream of enjoying all of the walking holidays that she’s worked all her life for, alive.
Luckily Bridget (like many others suffering unnecessarily with aches and pains), just needed a few tight muscles relaxing and weak muscles strengthened. Simple!
Thank goodness Bridget didn’t listen and just "rest it", or she’d still be suffering now. Sounds scary right?
But instead she has just returned from an incredible two-week walking holiday in the Swiss Alps.
Now keeping herself strong with Pilates and her monthly “check-up” in the clinic, Bridget already has many more holidays planned for the future with her husband and family.
To hear some of our other patients success stories follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
If you want to know more about how to make sure your future isn’t compromised by ill health just get in touch and go to www.BodyBalanceLakeway.com and claim your FREE discovery call today!