How do muscles heal?

When you tear a muscle fiber, the body immediately attempts to go into a recovery mode, sending in materials to clean up the mess and reconstitute the damaged muscle.   In order for this to happen, good circulation to the damaged area is essential.  If the blood vessels into and out of the muscle have been compromised, the body’s first task is to repair them.

If circulation is present, the body goes into its natural reparation mode.  One initial part of this process is often the creation of scar tissue.  Scar tissue is quickly produced by the body, and is able to patch a torn muscle back together quickly.  However, if significant scar tissue forms and remains over time at the site of the injury, its a recipe for future problems.  Scar tissue is weaker then muscle fiber, and less flexible.  If another significant strain occurs at this compromised location, the scar tissue often tears, leading to another muscle pull.

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In order to help the body break down this scar tissue and re-develop healthy muscle fibers, mild motion is necessary.  During the recovery process, as the body is healing, it is important to lightly exercise the muscle in recovery.  With light exercise, the body can break down scar tissue and rebuild more properly.

Taking the time and effort to help your body recover from a pulled or strained muscle is quite important.  If you try to ignore or rush through things, you may develop scar tissue that can be the basis for repeated injuries for years to come.  You don’t have to talk to too many athletes to hear about a nagging injury that just wont seem to go away.

That said, recovery and prevention is not too difficult.  It is mainly a matter of taking things seriously, and giving your healing process some time and attention.