What happens to your muscle when you have a strain or sprain?


A sprain is damage to the ligament either by a tear or a stretch in the muscle or tendon. The most reported place of occurrence is in the ankle and is often done by overstretching, pushing/forcing the ligaments past their usual range of movement e.g. twisting the ankle during physical sports activity or just walking in general if you miss place your footing. Other parts of the body that ligaments can become sprained are knees and joints in the fingers. The damage to the joint and ligament can be very painful and in some cases can cause long-lasting problems to the person. A sprained ligament presents as swollen and also may become stiff, thus not allowing the usual full range of movement. The muscles that frame the sprained area will most likely tighten in a natural reaction to protect the joint and area. Ligaments don’t have a very good blood circulation, therefore healing will be slow. However, tightened or stiff muscle will benefit from massage encouraging blood flow and warming the muscle encouraging repair. It is important though to remember not to massage if the injury is acute (severe), unless you are trained to do so, however when this stage of the sprain has diminished, strokes will undoubtedly help with disbanding the swelling. Immediate treatment for a sprain on the ankle maybe: elevation of the foot, compression, ice pack (to bring down the swelling) and finally rest.


A strain can occur if the muscle or tendon is over stretched or overworked. Strains are the tearing or stretching of muscle fibres. The ligaments (bands of fibrous, flexi tissue), if stretched past normal range of movement, may tear and in some cases cause muscle spasms (spasticity).

There are two types of tears: Complete and Partial.

Complete tear is where the muscles fibers are all torn, by which both ends of the muscle contract away from each other causing complete loss of normal range of movement and function. It is tremendously painful for the person who has this form of tear.

Partial tear is where only some of the muscle fibers are torn. It also presents as painful but not to the extent as a complete tear. The muscle will be quite tender to the touch. Partial tear strains are commonly found in the lower back and also in the hamstrings of the legs.

Can massage can help with sprains and strains?

By having regular deep tissue or sports massage with CentredTherapies you can help yourself look after the sprains and strains that you may be struggling with.  Having a program tailored to your needs, you can have post and pre treatments helping to maintain the muscles and ligaments that you may be having issues with.  Incorporating stretching before and after exercise will also prevent further distress to the muscles and ligaments.

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