Should I Stretch A Strained Muscle?

Blogs, / By Koh Peh Chia

Muscle strains are common injuries that can occur when the muscle fibres are overstretched or torn. Symptoms can include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. Many people wonder whether stretching can help alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with a strained muscle, or if stretching could further damage the muscle. In this blog post, we will explore the science behind muscle strains and whether stretching can be a helpful treatment.

What is a Muscle Strain?

Before we can explore whether stretching is helpful or harmful for muscle strains, it’s important to understand what muscle strain is. A muscle strain occurs when the muscle fibres are stretched beyond their limits or torn. This can happen during physical activity, such as sports or exercise, or due to overuse or improper technique. Common areas for muscle strains include the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles.

Can Stretching Help a Strained Muscle?

Stretching can help prevent muscle strains by increasing flexibility and range of motion. However, when it comes to treating a strained muscle, stretching can be more complicated. In the early stages of a muscle strain, stretching can make the injury worse by causing further tearing of the muscle fibres. This is why it’s important to rest and allow the muscle to heal before attempting any stretching or exercise.
Once the initial swelling and pain have subsided, gentle stretching can help alleviate stiffness and improve the range of motion. However, it’s important to approach stretching cautiously and avoid any movements that cause pain or discomfort. Overstretching a strained muscle can delay the healing process and even cause further damage.

Alternative Treatments for Muscle Strains

In addition to stretching, several other treatments can help alleviate the pain and stiffness associated with a muscle strain. Rest and ice are important in the initial stages of a strain to reduce swelling and inflammation. Compression and elevation can also help reduce swelling and promote healing.
Once the initial swelling has subsided, heat therapy can be beneficial for promoting blood flow and reducing muscle tension. Massage therapy can also help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.


In conclusion, while stretching can help prevent muscle strains, it’s essential to approach stretching with caution when treating a strained muscle. Rest and allow the muscle to heal before attempting any stretching or exercise, and avoid overstretching or any movements that cause pain or discomfort. Alternative treatments such as rest, ice, compression, elevation, heat therapy, and massage therapy can also be effective in promoting healing and reducing pain and stiffness associated with muscle strain. Always consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any treatment for a muscle strain to ensure the best course of action for your situation. If you have any more questions or would like our physiotherapists to assess or treat your pain, feel free to drop us a question or talk to us. Do check out our Instagram page too!


Through her clinical experience, she then gained valuable experience in treating professional dancers and gymnastics athletes. Her interest in pre and post-natal physiotherapy was piqued as she finds women having difficulties maintaining an active lifestyle pre and post-childbirth. She then pursued a STOTT Rehab Pilates Instructor certification to help with this group and women. She also highlights her belief that prevention is a better way to handle injuries.