An abdominal muscle strain involves an excessive stretch or tear in the muscle in the abdomen. The muscle might end up injured when engaging in certain activities such as lifting or twisting or from forceful sneezing or coughing. In some cases, the muscles become strained from overuse, usually from performing continuous crunches or sit-ups.
What are the signs?
Generally, there is pain or achiness in the abdominal area, especially when the abdominal muscles are used.
Management of an abdominal muscle strain
In most cases, the individual should change or stop any activities responsible for the pain until the muscles are fully healed. The doctor might also suggest stretching and strengthening exercises and other forms of physical therapy to promote healing.
A mild case can heal in just a few weeks while a severe injury might take 6 weeks or longer.
Other self-care measures for the injury include the following:
- Apply an ice pack or pack of frozen vegetables that is wrapped with a clean cloth or towel on the sore area every 3-4 hours for up to 20 minutes for every application.
- An over-the-counter pain medication such as naproxen, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given. It is important to carefully read the instructions and use as directed.
- Moist heat can also be applied to allow the muscles to relax. The heat must be applied for 10-15 minutes before warming-up and stretching the muscles.
It is vital to perform proper warm-up and stretching exercises before sports or other activities to prevent injuries. Remember that flexible, strong muscles are less likely to end up strained. The abdominal muscles can be strengthened by performing sit-ups or abdominal crunches.
When heavy objects are lifted, flex the knees and hips and always keep the back in a straight position.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on an abdominal muscle strain is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the indications and how it is treated, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.