Muscle Sprains

Find a physio


A physio can help you recover from a muscle sprain, strain or tear. The earlier you get help, the faster your injury is likely to heal.


Muscle sprains are common. They can occur when you stretch or reach out past your normal range while running, playing sport or gardening etc. A muscle tear is more serious as some of the muscle fibres will be broken.

How physio helps

Following an injury, your physiotherapist can help restore you to full movement and also teach you how to prevent injuries reoccurring. Treatment will include an exercise programme, possibly with the use of some gym equipment to increase your strength and co-ordination and restore any movement lost in the joint.

What to expect

The sooner you get help, the faster your injury is likely to heal.

For an initial treatment of your muscle sprain follow the R.I.C.E.D method:

  • Rest - stop the activity you are doing to avoid further damage
  • Ice - place crushed ice wrapped in a damp towel on the injured area for 20 minutes, every 2 hours for the first 48 hours
  • Compression - firm bandaging helps reduce swelling and bleeding
  • Elevation - keep the affected area raised as much as possible
  • Diagnosis - it is very important to see your doctor or physiotherapist if the pain and swelling gets worse or you have not improved after a couple of days

And avoid H.A.R.M. for the first 72 hours:

  • Heat
  • Alcohol
  • Running (or any exercise)
  • Massage


The best way to prevent muscle sprains and tears is to include a warm-up programme before starting any exercise, and then cool down and stretch when you have finished the activity. Advice on warm-up programmes and cool-down activities can be obtained from your physiotherapist or the ACC website.