Muscle Strains and Tears

Muscle Strains and Tears

Muscles function to provide movement and are integral to all normal daily activities and sporting pursuits. A muscle attaches directly onto bone via tendons and are able to produce very strong contractile forces.

There are many muscles throughout the body all with differing functions. Muscles can be classified as either involuntary (such as the heart) or voluntary like the biceps muscle. Voluntary muscles are also known as skeletal muscles and can be categorised into two groups: Slow twitch and Fast twitch.

  • Slow twitch (Type 1) muscles are able to contract for long periods of time producing little force. They are designed to carry more oxygen and use aerobic activity to sustain their work of effort.
  • Fast twitch (Type 2) muscles vary in the amount of force they produce and the speed at which they do it. Typically, they can produce quick and large amounts of power for short durations. An example of Fast twitch muscles in use is during sprinting.

Injury to muscles can occur for several reasons such as a direct blow or a traumatic event. Commonly muscle strains and tears happen when the muscle has failed to exert power due to weakness or has been overloaded and fatigued. In older populations, degeneration leading to tears is also observed.

A Chartered Physiotherapist is trained in assessing the type of injury which has been sustained and also why it may have occurred. Classification of strains and tears are as follows:

  • Grade 1: Mild – A few muscle fibres are torn with some pain on muscle contraction. There is minimal loss of strength.
  • Grade 2: Moderate – Roughly half the fibres of the affected muscle are torn with significant weakness and loss of muscle function. There is moderate to severe pain.
  • Grade 3: Severe – Complete tear of the muscle fibres. There is significant weakness and severe loss of function however commonly there is minimal to no pain when the muscle is contracted.

Injury can occur in several locations throughout the muscle tissue such as the belly, the tendon or the junction where the muscle meets the tendon. Once your Physiotherapist has identified the grade of injury they will be able to advise on the best management plan. Sometimes your Physio may request an ultrasound investigation to visualise the extent and location of your injury. For Grade 3 injuries, onward referral for consultant review is required and your Physiotherapist will be able to advise accordingly to ensure you are cared for optimally.

Rehabilitation after a muscle tear can be a lengthy process to ensure full function, flexibility and strength is regained and to prevent any further injury. If you have recently suffered an injury or are struggling with muscle pain speak to one of our Physiotherapists at Lilliput Health today on 01202 725090 or via