Sunday, May 14, 2023 6 min read

How To Speed Up Recovery From Muscle Strain

Pam, Team Copper Fit

How To Speed Up Recovery From Muscle Strain product
How To Speed Up Recovery From Muscle Strain

Muscle strains are no fun. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get the relief you need after a strain. Below, we’ll cover the causes of strained muscles, how to avoid them, and the best ways to speed up your recovery after you get a strain. 


What Causes Strained Muscles? 

A muscle strain is an injury that causes pain in one of the muscles or tendons in your body. These injuries are often minor and result from simply stretching a muscle or tendon too far while working out or lifting something heavy.


If you’re feeling some aches and pains after a workout, that’s perfectly normal. However, you can often tell that a muscle is strained based on the severity of the pain, as well as:

  • Limited range of motion
  • Swelling (sometimes) near the affected area
  • Feeling weak 
  • Twitches and spasms in the affected muscle group

If you recognize these symptoms, there’s no need to worry — in most cases, getting plenty of rest is enough to get relief within a few days. However, muscle strain is a reason to take a break from working out. Overworking strained muscles can result in more severe injuries like sprains. 


What Are the Big Risk Factors for Strained Muscles?

If you’re an athlete, you’re in the group at the highest risk for strained muscles. Don’t let that scare you; strains are avoidable and treatable. 


In general, the people who tend to get strains most often are athletes who play contact sports. In addition, serious weightlifters may strain certain muscle groups if they attempt to lift too much and overexert themselves. 


What Are the Most Commonly Strained Muscles? 

It’s common to strain muscles in all of the following areas:

  • Legs: Your legs take a beating during intense sports and leg days at the gym. Whether you’re doing heavy-duty weight-bearing exercises like squats or deadlifts or HIIT moves like box jumps, it’s possible to get a strain in your leg muscles. Ankle strains are also common, usually affecting the Achilles tendon.
  • Hands: You might not notice at first if you strain the muscles in your hands. However, overuse of these muscles can gradually lead to weakness, twitching, spasms, and pain. The best remedy for hand muscle strains is rest, but compression gloves can be helpful as well. 
  • Shoulders: Heavy overhead weightlifting can sometimes lead to shoulder strains, especially when improper form is a factor. Poor form always increases the risk of injury when working out, as it can place too much weight on one side of the body or place weight on the wrong muscle groups.

Now that you know more about the causes and risks of strained muscles, here are a few tips to help you make a quick and lasting recovery.


Rest the Strained Muscles

This solution is simple — and timeless — and those types of solutions are the ones you often want to turn to first. 


In general, the best way to recover from muscle strain is to give your body plenty of time to recover before getting back into the gym. You’ll need plenty of sleep to accomplish this goal, but you’ll also need to pause your workouts (at least the very strenuous ones) for the time being. 


Muscle strain is typically caused by overuse of a certain muscle group. Because overuse is the primary cause, rest is often the most reliable cure. There are tools and resources that can expedite the resting process, but you’ll need to rest no matter what to see improvement and keep the strain from getting worse. 


While resting, you might be wondering whether you can still work out. Generally, the answer is yes! While it’s always smart to leave your strained muscle groups alone — not putting too much strain on them or doing any strength training exercises while you recover — gentle cardio is perfectly fine with strained muscles in most cases.


Apply Compression 

Compression can provide support and gentle relief for achy, strained muscles. While compression isn’t a cure for muscle strains, it can make you feel much better over a short period of time. 


The ideal source of compression for you depends on what part of your body is especially achy or sore. If you’re a runner and are dealing with shin splints or achy calves, our Ice Compression Socks can provide the perfect amount of cooling support. Infused with menthol and copper, they’re anti-odor and provide an extra boost of cool relief. 


Pay Attention to Post-Workout Nutrition

You already know that what you eat can affect your performance in the gym — for better or worse. The same goes for recovery; proper nutrition can speed up the recovery process when your muscles are strained by providing your body with enough fuel to repair itself. 


One of the most important macronutrients to focus on when your muscles are strained is protein. Protein is vital for the growth of new muscle tissue and the repair of your existing muscles, and athletes tend to need more of it than sedentary individuals. 


If you’re struggling to add enough protein to your diet with whole foods, supplements can help you out immensely. Protein powder, which you can blend up into smoothies or simply mix with water, is easy to drink and provides an impressive amount of protein per serving. While protein powder isn’t at all necessary for proper post-workout nutrition or muscle recovery, it sure can help. 

Drink Plenty of Water

One of the easiest ways to strain your muscles is dehydration. If you don’t drink plenty of water, you’ll find your performance slipping in the gym, and you might also notice that you’re more sore than usual after a workout. 


If you’re dealing with strained muscles, prioritize hydration just as much as nutrition. Some athletes swear by mixing electrolytes into their water after workouts, which can help you restore your body’s natural electrolyte balance after intense physical output. If you work out regularly and often come home with strained muscles, electrolytes — and plenty of water could help. 


Try a Knee Wrap

If you have a strain in your leg, a knee wrap is one of the best ways to support your recovery. By combining heat and cold therapy through the use of pliable insertable gel packs, a knee wrap helps you soothe aching muscles and maintain your mobility while you recover.


Copper Fit Knee Wraps are infused with copper to reduce odors and have a flexible size, making them an ideal fit for just about anyone. If you frequently get leg strains from sports or working out, add one of these knee wraps to your gym bag. 


Stretch (Gently) 

One of the key aspects of physical therapy is using specific stretches to target injured muscles. While it’s often helpful to consult a physical therapist before creating your own stretching regimen, you can still gently stretch at home if you follow a few key rules.


First, not all stretching is helpful after a strained muscle. There’s such a thing as too much too fast, which can end up worsening the injury. Light stretching — stretching that doesn’t put too much weight or pressure on the injured area — can help you avoid additional soreness and tightness. Light is the keyword here, though. 


Rethink Your Workout Regimen

Let’s not just talk about recovery methods — we need to mention prevention as well. 


If you’re frequently straining the same muscle groups, we hate to break it to you, but it’s likely you need to decrease the amount of weight or reps in your gym sets. Too much weight or too many reps are common causes of muscle strain, but few lifters have the humility to admit when enough is enough. 


Easing back on the weight or reps isn’t giving up, and it doesn’t mean you’re a “quitter.” Instead, it means you know your limits. To avoid future strains, remember that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to lifting. In most cases, it’s far better to underestimate your strength at the gym than to overestimate it and end up getting hurt.


Know When To See a Doctor

While strains tend to heal on their own within a few days, it’s always smart to monitor your symptoms and consider visiting a doctor if they don’t let up. If your pain from a strain persists for more than a few days, it’s wise to let your doctor know. If necessary, your primary care physician might refer you to a physical therapist, who can help you avoid future injuries and speed up your recovery.


The Bottom Line

Muscle strains are common, treatable, and preventable. When you know their causes and the best ways to address them if they occur, you’ll have more confidence in your favorite forms of exercise. 


Whether you work out at the gym, run, play sports, or use another form of exercise to stay fit, you can use the methods listed above to recover from a strain and avoid future injuries.



Muscle Strain | Harvard Health

Nutrition for Muscle Repair and Recovery | NASM

Myoclonus (Muscle Twitch) | Cleveland Clinic

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