Tearing a muscle is a relatively common injury among athletes and bodybuilders, though it can also afflict us mere mortals. This is a painful problem that can leave you with a limited movement and strength and which can get in the way of normal activity until it heals. Here we will look at what it is, what it means for you and how to treat it.
What Is a Torn Muscle?
A torn muscle is basically what it sounds like and means that the skeletal muscle that you use to move your bones and joints has become physically ripped or in some cases punctured. This is similar to a pulled muscle, though is often used to describe a deeper rip that can be caused in a variety of different ways whereas a pull tends to describe the kind of damage that comes from a sudden movement which can lead to tears deep inside the muscle.
Normally when you train and workout, you will cause tears in your muscle called 'microtears'. These are basically tears in the muscle fibers which make up the muscle and this is completely normal and in fact necessary for muscle growth to occur. However when you tear a muscle what has happened is that you have ripped such a quantity of muscle fibers that the muscle is partially or sometimes even completely torn in half resulting in loss of movement and severe pain and swelling – though of course this varies in severity and it's possible to cause much smaller tears which have the same symptoms to a lesser degree. Think of it like pulling an elastic band – a little bit of fraying is what you want to trigger muscle growth, but when it frays too much you will have damaged the elastic band and you will risk it snapping in half.
While lifting weights is a common way to tear muscle, you can also tear muscle by having it punctured – for instance someone I know once tore a pectoral muscle by falling onto a car door.
Normally the treatment for a torn muscle is simply rest and elevation to combat swelling. If the tear is very severe however then you may require stitches which can hold the muscle in place while it sews itself back together. You may find that the muscle looks visibly different following this.
You can help aid your own recovery following a muscle tear too after seeing a doctor. Make sure that you combat the swelling with blood thinning analgesics as well as with a compress.
Meanwhile you should increase your intake of protein during recovery and amino acids and generally all of your muscle growth supplements will help here too such as growth hormone and testosterone boosters – these work normally by encouraging the healing of muscle so that it grows back bigger and stronger which is of course what you want to happen in this case too.
Avoiding a Muscle Tear
More effective than a cure however as always is a preventative. To help yourself avoid a muscle tear you should make sure to go easy in the gym and to increase your loads gradually rather than suddenly. Make sure that you give yourself a warm up before training and stretch thoroughly – the combination of these things can help you to keep your muscles flexible and limber which will help to reduce the chances of them tearing. It's also a very good idea to use a spotter when lifting heavy weights – apart from anything else if your muscle DOES tear then you are going to drop the weight so it's important to have someone on hand to help you put it down gently and get help.