How to Treat a Torn Muscle

by | Jul 28, 2010 04:38 PM ET

I play kickball and it's a ton of fun. Unfortunately, not being a baseball fan, I still struggle with understanding all of the rules. So the post on how to play kickball will have to wait. What I can speak on, however, is what to do when you've torn a muscle. Because I've managed to master that particular party foul.

About two weeks ago during kickball practice, I accidentally tore the crap out of my right quad muscle. If you've never torn a muscle, or it's been a while since you have, let me remind you what it's like: immediate-and-excruciating-drop-to-the-ground-and-roll-around-sobbing-hysterically level agony. I did not, however, act on that impulse, owing to the fact that I'm technically a grownup and I try to behave like one as often as possible. What I did do was attempt one more kick to determine whether or not it really was a game-over intensity injury, then quickly deciding that this was the case, I limped pitifully in defeat to deep right field where I proceeded to pray the ball would not be kicked. (It was. Repeatedly.)

When I got home after practice, I immediately went (i.e. hobbled slowly) to the freezer to grab an ice pack and start icing my leg. From there, I followed a pretty simple set of instructions that's sometimes referred to as the PRICE formula. That's protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. (Heating should be in there too, but then it wouldn't be a cool acronym.)

So for the first 24 hours, ice and elevate the area, then switch to applying heat. (Although you can still alternate between icing and heating, and some sources say wait 72 hours before applying heat and compression.) I used one of those old-fashioned hot water bottles for that. For compression, it was an ace bandage all the way. It's also a good idea to take over-the-counter pain meds, because they can help decrease inflammation.

My injury was probably somewhere between a second- and third-degree tear, and while it was noticeably improved after the second day, it was a good week and a half before it was feeling somewhat functional. Basically, instead of unbearable throbbing pain, it was severe and then moderate aching and stiffness. Since then, I've been staying hydrated, taking it easy -- when I come up to a heavy door, for example, I make sure my left leg is acting as the load-bearing leg -- and doing lots of stretching. Muscles need to be plenty warmed up before you put any strain on them (copy that!) so it's important to get the blood flowing prior to going into full-blown action.

You might also want to adjust your diet in the event of a torn muscle in order to help minimize your healing time. Other than that, depending on the severity of the injury, it just takes time. I hope all that does the trick though, because I'm going to this week's kickball practice in a couple of hours. Wish me luck!

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