What to Do if You're an Athlete with a Torn Muscle

What to Do if You're an Athlete with a Torn Muscle

Muscle strains are one of the most common sports injuries, and according to Johns Hopkins, you can even pull a muscle while you’re walking! Muscle strains happen when you overstretch a muscle, but if the muscle stretches too far, it can tear. This is called a grade 3 strain, and it’s the most severe type of strain because the fibers have ruptured. 

Athletes can experience an acute muscle tear from not warming up, overexertion, or poor conditioning. Chronic tears can develop from repetitive motions such as pitching, swinging a tennis racket, or rowing. 

A torn muscle can quickly derail your athletic performance, but what should you do if you injure your muscle? You’re not alone in your journey. Dr. Dustin Hamoy proudly helps athletes recover from sports injuries here at Precision Laser Joint and Spine Pain Center.

Here’s what you need to do if you suspect you’ve torn a muscle. 

Focus on immediate first aid

If you suspect you’ve torn a muscle, the first thing you need to do is stop physical activity, remove yourself from the game (or gym), and practice the RICE protocol. RICE stands for:


Continuing to work out, train, or play can further injure your muscles. Take a break for a few days from your normal exercise or training routine. A few days’ rest might be sufficient for a mild strain, but a grade 3 strain (tear) may need medical intervention. 

Although rest is important, too much rest can weaken your muscle and delay your healing. When possible, incorporate light stretching and ease back into regular movement. Dr. Hamoy can guide you with the appropriate timeline for resting and activity based on the severity of your injury.


Cold packs can help reduce inflammation and pain. Place an ice pack or cold compress over your muscle for 20 minutes at a time. To avoid harming your skin, don’t place ice directly on your skin. Wrap it in a tea towel, a hand towel, or even a spare T-shirt. 


Compression can further reduce swelling. Wrap the affected area with a first aid compression bandage until the swelling comes down. Avoid wrapping too tightly. 


Keep the injured muscle above heart level, if possible. This also helps reduce inflammation and swelling. 

In addition to practicing the RICE protocol, keep these tips in mind:

Although the RICE protocol is essential for immediate first aid, a torn muscle should be evaluated, so you can receive the appropriate treatments as soon as possible. Torn muscles typically benefit from physical therapy and other treatments such as multiwave locked system (MLS®) laser therapy.

Exploring treatment options for torn muscles 

Torn muscles benefit from physical therapy as well as other treatments, including MLS laser therapy. Physical therapy includes exercises and stretches to strengthen your muscles as well as restore functionality. 

MLS laser therapy is an important part of your treatment plan because it encourages muscle tissue and cell regeneration. MLS laser therapy also promotes healing by:

Not all muscle strains require the same treatment. Dr. Hamoy first confirms the grade of muscle strain you have and creates a treatment plan that helps to reduce pain, promotes healing, and helps you return to your favorite physical activities in a safe and timely fashion.

To learn more about the treatment options for torn muscles, schedule a sports injury appointment via our booking tool. You can also reach our Glen Burnie office at 410-324-2968. 

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