The other day, while I doing the laundry, I felt a sharp pain in my back after reaching down to pick up some shirts and socks that fell from clothesline. I had to stop doing the laundry since every time I tried to bend, the would pain shoot up again. It was clear that the pain cam from a strained lower back. While I was still able to move around, I just could not bend to pick up things. Aside from the pain in my lumbar region, I also felt discomfort every time I reach for a can of corned beef from the cupboard.
Wasting no more time, I went to see my doctor so that I could have a proper physical examination. After describing to him what happened and a quick psycho-motor test, the doctor informed me that the pain that I felt was not that serious. He explained that what I actually experienced was a muscle spasm or muscle strain. The doctor also advised me to take it easy with my daily physical activities. To reduce muscular tension, he gave me a prescription for paracetamol, an over-the-counter pain killer.
It was a great relief to hear that I only suffered from a very minor muscle strain. Some people are not as fortunate. An estimated 31 million Americans experience lower back pain every year.
But what exactly is a muscle strain and what causes it?
Muscle strain occurs when a muscle is pulled or teared due to over-exertion. It is a partial tear of the small fibers that make up the muscle. The tearing may be small and can only be seen with the use of a microscope. Athletes are very prone to muscle strain due to the continuous, repetitive use of their muscles in strenuous sports activities. These are the common signs of muscle strain:
- Weakness of the tendons
- Swelling, redness, open cuts, or bruising
- Feeling of pain in the affected area even while in a resting position
- Inability to move or use the body part with the strained muscles
A muscle strain is not only painful but also a major hindrance in doing our everyday tasks. It is important to take care of one’s body in order to maintain the right physical condition that is needed to effectively do our work and to enjoy leisurely activities. Therefore, it is wise to follow these tips to keep our backs straight and pain-free:
- Protect the strained muscle from further injury taking time to rest and by avoiding strenuous physical activities.
- Apply ice packs on the affected area every 20 minutes. Make sure that the affected body part is comfortably extended which helps improve blood circulation.
- After the inflammation disappears, you can use heating pad to relax the muscles in the affected body part.
- Take non-steroidal agents like aspirin to reduce the pain and to improve your mobility.
- Make sure to do warm-up and stretching exercises before undertaking any sports or sustained physical activities.
- Take plenty of time to rest after being engaged in sports and strenuous physical activities. Rest and sleep allows your body to replenish and repair injured or strained muscles.
Whether we’re doing the laundry or doing the latest fitness routine, it is always best to do things carefully and progressively. The intensity of our physical movements must be carefully measured to avoid injuries and physical stress. By all means, we should lead active, vibrant lives — while maintaining safety in all activities that we engage in. Just remember that whether it’s exercise or doing household chores…too much of a good thing can be harmful, too.
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