(The Trainer’s Room is a regular column at Midwest Sports Fans by Denver chiropractors Dr. Niall McNally and Dr. Ihsan Erhuy, the pain and rehabilitation experts at the Mountain View Pain Center in Denver, CO.
All treatment options provided in this article should not be taken as specific advice, but rather as a general guide regarding what is typically done to treat the injury being described. You should always consult your doctor before beginning any pain management or rehab program.)
With the exciting end to the World Baseball Classic and Opening Day just around the corner, we have decided to discuss strained and torn abdominal muscles for this article. In fact, two players were recently plagued with similar abdominal muscle strains: Chipper Jones and Dustin Pedroia.
Chipper Jones, from the Atlanta Braves, had to be pulled out for a week from the WBC tournament after suffering an abdominal muscle strain. He even had to leave the game against Venezuela because of the injury. Dustin Pedoria from the Red Sox was also sidelined with a strained abdominal muscle.
Disclaimer: First, we must warn you that abdominal pain is an abnormal occurrence, and is not to be taken lightly; you must seek medical attention right away as this could be something more serious than a strained muscle. We advise anyone having any abdominal pain to please contact your medical practitioner right away.
Abdominal Muscle Strain Symptoms
It is important to know that this type of injury can take some time to heal (time will depend on the severity of the injury). Often in the case of a complete muscle tear the pain is instant and very intense. The pain description most patients give is knife-like or sharp pain at the site of injury. The pain results from micro-tears in the musculature that occurs during torsion (twisting) movements. Other common signs and symptoms of an abdominal strain or tear can be tenderness and inflammation over the area.
Unfortunately, basically everything we do during the day is aided with the contraction of the abdominal musculature, since it is an important muscle of core stabilization. As a result, an abdominal muscle strain can cause pain all day long, and any movement involving flexion of the trunk can also cause an increase in pain. Examples of this are as simple as sitting up or getting out of bed in the morning.
Muscle strain grades
- 1st Degree: Minimal damage to the muscle, tendon, or musculotendinous unit
- 2nd Degree: Partial tear to the muscle, tendon, or musculotendinous unit
- 3rd Degree: Complete disruption to the muscle, tendon, or musculotendinous unit
One of the reasons it can take so long to recover is because you constantly use the muscles while breathing; and, as we mentioned above, we use our abdominal musculature in basic stabilization throughout the day. However, it is possible to have a minor strain that can heal in a relatively short period of time, if the appropriate steps are taken.
Another result of abdominal muscle weakness is an increase of the lumbar curvature (hyperlordosis), which in many instances can lead to low back pain. If a complete tear of the musculature occurs there is also a possibility of a further complication, such as a hernia.
Abdominal Muscle Strain Treatment
Kinesio-taping, although fairly new, has been shown to have great results with this type of injury. The specific method of kinesio-taping depends on which muscle has sustained the injury and can be determined by your doctor.
The injury that Chipper Jones suffered from was an oblique injury. The external oblique muscle fibers run downward and medial (toward one another), and they cooperate in the flexion of the trunk by resisting one another. If the fibers on only one side are contracted, then the action performed is lateral flexion and rotation of the trunk to the opposite side.
The kinesio-taping method for this type of injury is fairly simple. For an external oblique injury your doctor would find the muscle in question and apply specialized tape in the direction of the fibers. Do not read this and think you can tape yourself. Remember you must use a specific type of elastic tape, and the application and direction of the tape is very important. If the taping is done properly it will provide increased stability to the area. If done improperly it can result in an ineffective treatment.
One of the other most effective types of treatment for this injury is everyoneâ€™s favorite advice: ice it and rest it. After the initial injury, apply ice to the area in question quickly to prevent it from further developing unnecessary swelling. The second part of the recommendation, rest, is of course the last thing any athlete wants to hear, but it is an important step in the recovery process. Remember that with an injury like a muscle strain, if you do not give your body time to heal then you can damage the muscle further or risk tearing the already weakened muscle all together.
There is no quick fix for an abdominal muscle strain. However, there are supplement protocols out there to help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
- Many studies have shown that ginger root has many benefits, one of which is the reduction of inflammation. Many traditional herbal practitioners use ginger root to aid in the treatment of arthritis, bursitis, and ulcerative colitis, all of which are inflammatory conditions.
- Omega Fatty Acids are also very beneficial in the healing process.
- Vitamin C and other bio flavinoids are also beneficial in the healing of connective tissues.
Abdominal Muscle Strain Prevention
The best things you can do to prevent an abdominal muscle strain is to properly train your body. You may ask yourself, then why do professional athletes suffer from this injury? Are they not properly trained? Well in most instances yes, they are properly trained; however, it is also possible to strain or tear the muscle from over training your body. The best way to prevent injury is to consult your doctor or trainer and set up a program that helps to strengthen your core. Some common exercises for this can be done on the physio-ball and many are free weight exercises such as the plank maneuver (pictured right).
Another important prevention method is to make sure you have the appropriate technique when performing your exercises. Whether you are swinging a bat or lifting weights in the gym, having the correct technique is very important to protecting the body from injury. If you want to take it a step further, you can see your practitioner or a sports therapist to see if there is a muscle imbalance or something altering your posture that may have a weakening effect on your core.
As far as Chipper Jones and other professional athletes with similar injuries, we predict that they should recover from their injuries within 1-4 weeks (depending on severity of their injury).
Disclaimer: Once again, we must warn that abdominal pain is not a normal occurrence. Please seek medical attention right way. This article is the opinion of the Mountain View Pain Center, for this particular type of injury. If you feel you have had a similar type of injury please contact your primary care physician and do not attempt to perform any of these treatments without the approval and supervision of your doctor.
The Trainer’s Room is written exclusively for Midwest Sports Fans by Denver chiropractors Dr. Niall McNally and Dr. Ihsan Erhuy of the Mountain View Pain Center in Denver, CO. You can contact them by leaving a comment below or sending an email to [email protected].
Dr. Niall McNally is certified in chiropractic neurology and has a strong background in sports injuries and in the rehabilitation of common nagging athletic problems. Dr. McNally also is trained in pediatrics, orthopedics, and nutrition.
He graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma and successfully completed his Doctor of Chiropractic degree at the Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas, TX. A very active athlete, Dr. McNally played hockey up into the junior level. In fact, it was his love for hockey, and the Colorado Avalanche, that originally gave him the idea to one day practice sports medicine and chiropractics in the area.
Dr. Ihsan Erhuy specializes in motor vehicle accident injures, back, neck, and extremity problems, as well as treating pregnant patients and children. He is certified in the Diversified, Gonstead, Thompson, Upper Cervical, Activator, Sacral Occipital, Applied Kinesiology, Soft Tissue techniques.
Originally from Adana, Turkey, Dr. Erhuy graduated from the University of Arizona and also susuccessfully completed his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, along with his bachelor of science in health and wellness, at the Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas, TX.