So, you pulled a muscle. Here’s what to do.
Scope: mild to moderate muscular pull, characterized by pain (usually immediate, though sometimes setting in within a few hours), redness and swelling.
What’s happened: The elastic capacity of a particular area of your soft tissue structure (think muscles, tendons, ligaments) got overloaded and, instead of springing back into shape like usual, tore either in part or completely.
What now: We want to let your body do its thing to heal, which in most cases you do remarkably well. The basic flow goes that when tissue is torn, you flood the area with lots of tissue-destroying and tissue-building cells, enzymes, etc. That’s inflammation, and it’s so important. Eventually, this stuff gets cleared out and, in many cases, you’re back to normal.
What to do (ie how to get back to normal):
1. Rest, ie get off, the injured tissue.
I’ve found taking an immediate dose of the homeopathic remedy Arnica Montana, at a 30c potency, to be immensely helpful at this stage.
Over the next few days, you’ll start gradually resting the injured tissue less and doing more elevation and light movement.
2. Elevate the injured tissue above your heart for a few times a day, at a few minutes a go. This elevation, especially a day or three after the injury (as opposed to immediately), is really helpful in assisting your lymphatic system in flushing out the swelling that’s left over as a result of the inflammation.
3. Compress the area if that feels good. Do this especially if you need to move the injured area. Consider your innate tendency to brace, ie compress, something when it hurts.
4. After an initial period of rest (again, this may be a day or three or five, depending on the severity of the injury), begin introducing more movement to the injured tissue.
You do this movement by moving the joints on either side of it. As in, if you pulled your calf muscle, you’ll be doing light ankle movements (up, down, side to side, circles) and knee movements (flexion and extension).
This aligns the scar tissue that you’ve laid down over the injured tissue as an impromptu, and amazingly effective, band-aid. It also contracts the musculature around the (passive) lymphatic system that flushes out the swelling.
The guiding metric will be how much it hurts to move it. A little is okay (think something akin to a deep yoga stretch); a lot of pain is too much and is not beneficial even if you can deal.
What not to do:
1. Ice or take NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, yadda yadda) to do anything other than reduce pain. (Yes, I know this is highly controversial! This is the truth as best I know it.)
2. Use this list as a post-surgery protocol.
3. Take this or any other advice as a substitute for listening to your body. Felt sense is one of your five senses, just like seeing or taste; we just don’t use it very often as a healing tool, and in fact often try to avoid feeling at quite a cost.
In Summary: Begin by babying the injured area, though baby it less and less as the days go on. Think “what would I have done 200 years ago?”
Seek help from a quality health care practitioner if you’re unsure, seriously. This could be the beginning of a miraculous journey for you.