Healing a Pre-Season Muscle Strain

Learn how to bounce back from pre-season muscle strains with tips from STACK expert Carol Ferkovic.

Muscle Strain
It's that time of year again. Fall sports are upon us, and many high school and college athletes are winding up their pre-season training. Athletes typically dread the pre-season, with its intense fitness tests, two-a-day practices and hot weather workout regimens.

Overtraining in the pre-season can cause muscle strains that affect your ability to practice and compete.  Here are a few tips to manage such an injury so you can get back on the field ASAP. (Also check out several tips to avoid muscle strains in the first place.)

Don't Stretch 

Muscle strains occur when a muscle stretches too far. If you strain a muscle, do not stretch! Stretching a strained muscles pulls the muscle fibers even more, further aggravating the injury. Simply keep the muscle moving in a pain-free range. Gentle range-of-motion exercises are effective for this purpose. For example, if you strain a hamstring, do 20 to 30 Heel Slides and repeat them every few hours to prevent stiffness. Do not move through any part of the exercise if you feel pain. For quadriceps strains, do gentle Leg Extensions in the same fashion.

Heel Slide

Heel Slide

Leg Extension

Leg Extension

Focus on the Eccentric Phase

Once motion is pain-free, help the muscle heal by focusing on the eccentric phase of your exercises. "Eccentric" refers to the negative, or lowering,  phase. For example, when performing Biceps Curls, lower the dumbbells in a slow and controlled manner. If you have a hamstring strain, once it begins to heal, do Single-Leg Deadlifts and lower the weight very slowly. For a quadriceps strain, start with regular Squats, then progress to Lunges and Single Leg Squats.

Single-Leg Deadlift

Single Leg Squat and Lunges

Single-Leg Squat

Walking Lunges

Top Photo: Mamasimmons.com

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