Abdominal muscle strain is when you’ve pulled a muscle in the abdominal area. There are several layers of muscles in the abdominal area and you can pull one, just like you can pull a hamstring or any other muscle in your body.
There are 3 grades of strains:
- Grade 1 Strain: a few muscle fibres are torn
- Grade 2 Strain: more extensive tears
- Grade 3 Strain: complete rupture of the muscles
What Causes Abdominal Muscle Strain?
- Not warming up or cooling down enough before a sport
- Over stretching
- Fast movements or sudden changes in direction
- Over-exercising the abdominals
- Weak or tight abdominals
- Poor posture
What are the Symptoms of Abdominal Muscle Strain?
Grade 1 strain:
- Sudden pain
- Localized pain
- Pain that increases with movement
- Localized swelling (inflammation)
Grade 2 strain:
- Grade 1 strain symptoms, plus localized discoloration and tenderness to the touch
Grade 3 strain:
- Grade 1 & 2 strain symptoms, plus the symptoms of shock: excessive sweating, nausea, paleness, racing heart beat and vomiting
When to Seek Help:
Grade 1 Strain:
- You should seek help for anything over a week that hasn’t gotten better.
Grade 2 Strain:
- See your doctor or visit the emergency room as soon as possible. The sooner the better.
Grade 3 Strain: Go to the emergency room immediately.
If your abdominal muscle strain is mild, the following treatment will help reduce pain and bring healing:
- Apply ice for 10-20 minutes, every 2-3 hours. Ice reduces inflammation and bleeding in the muscle and helps with the pain.
- Rest until the pain has eased. Resting will allow the muscles to repair themselves. If you returning to using your abdominal muscles too (exercising), it can re-injur the muscle.
Day 4 to 3 Weeks:
- Apply heat in the form of a hot bath or a hot water bottle. Heat therapy, especially when alternated with ice therapy, can speed healing by increasing blood flow into the area.
- For athletes concerned about muscle atrophy: gentle exercises and stretching will help to prevent muscle atrophy and weakness.
3 Weeks to 2 Years:
- For the athlete: Adapt training to avoid any exercises that excessively strain the rectus abdominus muscles (such as crunches). Seek the advice of a physiotherapist or sports massage therapist as to when strenuous exercise can be resumed and the type of exercises that can be done. Exercising with muscles that are not properly loosened up makes it more possible for a strain, therefore, always take the time to warm up and cool down properly.
- For the non-athlete: Stay in shape, don’t over do something that you’re not used to doing all the time, and avoid holding your breath while pushing, pulling or lifting something heavy, which could even provoke a hernia.
- Depending on the severity of the strain to the abdominal muscles, healing can take from a few days to a few weeks. A grade 3 strain can vary from a few weeks to 3 months.
- Kinesology taping to the affected muscle can be effective in the recovery phase.
- Therapeutic ultrasound is commonly used to help heal severe abdominal strains. This procedure is usually performed in a medical professional’s office.
- If experiencing pain when coughing (sneezing or taking a deep breath) try this: take a pillow, fold in half, stick it right on the abdomen and hug it nice and tight. This support will help alleviate some of the pain.
This 3-minute video discusses the 4 different types of abdominal muscles:
- Internal and external obliques
- Rectus abdominus (long and flat)
- Transversus abdominus (triangular & flat)
In this video, Dr. Grant Fowler (the Roger Clemens Institute at memorial Hermann) discusses what abdominal strain is, what might cause it, and when to seek help for it:
In this video, Dr. Chad Peters (Armadillo Sport Chiropractic) discusses abdominal strain as it pertains to athletes:
And finally, Tara Pollak (Physical Therapist at Evolution Physical Therapy) discusses how to treat an abdominal muscle strain using ice and demonstrates the use of a pillow to relieve abdominal muscle pain when coughing, sneezing or breathing deeply:
Important Information on How Genetically Modified Foods, Food Irradiation, Chemical Additives (i.e., MSG, Artificial Sweeteners) and Fluoridation Negatively Impact Your Body’s Ability to Heal and Endangering the Health of You and Your Children:
Abdominal Strain Symptoms Causes and Treatments: “Abdominal strain isn’t pretty. True it’s a muscle strain but unlike most other muscle strains an abdominal muscle strain typically isn’t one you can sport with ease or dignity. They hurt at best they feel awkward internally while.…”
Abdominal Muscle Strain sports injuries: “Abdominal muscle strain refers to muscle fibres tissues in the stomach been torn or ruptured during sports or abdomen exercises.…”
How long will a minor abdominal muscle strain take to heal: “Possible abdominal muscle strain abdominal muscle strain left side I’ve had left side abdominal pain for 5 hours. The pain is sharp similar to contractions during labor. Abdominal muscle strain left side.…”
We strive to provide the most accurate and timely information possible, but ultimately, the decision, and responsibility, lies with you.
For a definite diagnosis and for treatment, always see a doctor.