How to heal holiday muscle strain
With your baggy sweatpants on, you may not think about a 20-pound turkey hurting more than your waistline — until a sharp pain calls timeout in the kitchen. Lifting that bird has your lower back begging for a couch retreat. But when the dinner bell finally rings, you realize the pain is only getting worse.
“When a muscle is stretched unusually far or abruptly, that’s an acute strain,” said Dr. Jennifer Martin, a Consult Physician at Laser Spine Institute. “You may experience muscle spasm, swelling or even reduced mobility, but early intervention is key.”
To heal a muscle strain in the back, Dr. Martin recommends these careful steps:
Ice during the inflammatory phase
“During the 48 to 72 hours after a strain, icing is the first line of defense,” said Dr. Martin. Try icing for 15 minutes an hour, then after a few days, alternate between ice and heat to decrease swelling while maintaining circulation. Dr. Martin also advised temporary treatments, like pain medication and trigger point injections, can fight initial inflammation but shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution.
Take it easy at first
Don’t be afraid to ask for help — according to Dr. Martin, resting for a few days or weeks is necessary, depending on the severity of your muscle strain. You should also modify your routine to avoid heavy exertion, at least during initial treatment. Once your doctor gives you the go-ahead, light stretching and post-injury exercise can help rehabilitate the area.
Have more healing foods
“Eating clean allows your body to heal faster,” said Dr. Martin. “Caffeine, gluten, processed sugar and dairy can worsen inflammation, putting you at risk for more health issues.” For a neck or back injury, try eating more lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and taking a vitamin supplement.
Not knowing the importance of rehabilitation for back and neck pain can be the deciding factor between a full recovery, years of chronic spine pain or even surgery. If you suspect a chronic muscle strain in the neck or back is something more, talk to the experts. Contact Laser Spine Institute to find out how we’ve helped more than 75,000 people find relief from many chronic spine conditions.