The Basics of Muscle Strains and Sprains

Muscle Strains and Sprains

As wonderful as staying active can be for your health and wellbeing, it's worth noting that everything from poor form, to overexertion can quickly lead to injuries in even the most experienced of athletes. Because your legs are absorbing most of the impact when you walk, run, jump, and even climb a set of stairs, it's the calves that frequently suffer most from sprains, tears, and strains.

Though there are plenty of ways to avoid calf injuries, from stretching properly before a workout, to wearing calf compression garments and monitoring your workout carefully, it's worth understanding the basics of these injuries, so you know how to react when you fall victim to one yourself.

The Difference Between Sprains and Strains

Though calf compression garments will help to promote recovery in both muscle strains and sprains, it's important to know the difference between each injury if you want to seek out the proper treatment and medical assistance:

  • A sprain is simply a tear or a stretch within a ligament - the bands of fibrous tissue that surround the bones at a joint.
  • A strain is also a tear or stretch, but it affects the muscle itself, or the tendon (tissues responsible for connecting bones to muscles).

How Do Muscle Strains and Sprains Happen?

In most circumstances, a sprain will take place when an individual falls, twists awkwardly, or suffers an impact that forces the body to move outside of its natural position. The most common sprain in the world is a "sprained ankle", and around 25,000 people suffer from this injury every day. Sprains within the thumb and wrists are also quite common - particularly in people who regularly take part in sports such as skiing - where it's typical to fall and land on outstretched palms.

Strains, on the other hand, take place when a person twists and pulls a tendon or muscle. Usually, athletes who engage in contact sports like boxing, football, and hockey are the most prone to strains, but anything that involves frequent repetitive motions can cause a strain. Because of this, runners are quite prone to strains in their calf muscles and thigh muscles.

How to Diagnose Muscle Strains and Sprains

If you're in a great deal of pain following an athletic injury, then this should be a sign that you need to seek the professional assistance of a medical expert or doctor straight away. However, if you're simply suffering from some discomfort, then you may be able to detect a muscle sprain or strain yourself.

The signs of most strains and sprains are very similar, and involve inflammation, pain, and occasional bruising around the injured area. Levels of pain for different forms of sprain or strain can range from mild, to severe. In many circumstances, if the injury is quite severe, the individual affected may struggle to move properly or engage in the same range of motion he or she had before the sprain or strain. That's why athletes who pull a muscle in their calf are frequently left sitting on the bench.



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