Lesson 1, Topic 1
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Muscle strain and contusion

Muscle strain

A muscle strain is the stretching or tearing of muscle fibers. Most muscle strains happen because of these two key reasons : either the muscle has been stretched beyond its limit or it has been forced to contract too strongly. In mild cases, only a few muscle fibres are stretched or torn , and the muscle remains intact and strong. In severe cases the muscle may be torn and unable to function properly.

Predisposing factor to muscle injuries

There are many predisposing factors to muscle strain which includes but not limited to, muscle tightness, muscle imbalance, poor conditioning, poor nutrition, muscle fatigue and improper warm,-up prior to participation.

Injury classification

Muscle strains can be classified into 3 key grades namely grade one, two and three. These are determined by the extremity of the trear,this is usually investigated using MRI scans and other related modalities.

Muscle strains

Grade one muscle strain

In this mild strain only a few muscle fibres are stretched or torn. Although the injured muscle is tender and painful. It has normal strength. It is characterised by stiffness, soreness, and tightness in the muscle. Little noticeable swelling causing some discomfort though there is normal walking gate and range of motion.

Grade two strain

This is a moderate strain, with a greater number of injured fibres and more severe muscle pain and tenderness. There is also mild swelling , noticeable loss of strength and sometimes a bruise. It is painful to touch limited range of motion and pain when contracting muscle.

Grade three strain

This strain tears the muscle all the way through, sometimes causing a ” pop” sensation as the muscle rips into two separate pieces or shears away from its tendon. Grade three strains are serious injuries that cause complete loss of function, as well as considerable pain, swelling , tenderness and dislocation. Since grade three strains usually cause a sharp break in the normal outline of the muscle, there may be an obvious “dent” or gap under the skin where the ripped pieces of muscle have come apart.

Almost all types of athletic activity carry some risk of muscle strains, these injuries tend to happen most often in speedy and contact sports, such as football, and quick starts, such as basketball and tennis.


There are a number of preventative measures namely :

  • Warm up before participating in sports
  • Strengthening of muscles
  • Gradual increase of training loads
  • Good nutrition
  • The use of correct technique when executing skills



Return to play estimated time

These guidelines do not apply to every athlete since there are a number of factors internal and external ranging from modalities applied, nutrition among others.

A grade 1m muscle strain usually takes a day to a few days to recover if treated on time otherwise it will be aggravated into becoming a grade 2. A grade 2 muscle strain takes 2- 4weeks to recovery considering a number of factors that includes early management of the injury otherwise it might be aggravated to a grade sprain. A grade 3 muscle strain usually takes 6-8 weeks to recover under normal circumstances.


A contusion is a soft tissue injury with increased bleeding cause by direct trauma and impact. It is common in contact sports like rugby, american football among others. At extreme levels it may lead to a fracture depending on the impact.