Ouch! I hurt my right oblique muscle a few weeks ago and ouch describes my experience pretty well. I had also pulled my left calf muscle while doing either long jump or hurdles back in primary school, honestly can’t remember which caused my ouch back then. I am not a doctor, so I won’t be giving medical advise here, I’ll just be letting you know what I’ve done so far to start healing. If in doubt or if the pain is really severe and doesn’t start to get better after 24 hours or you heard a popping sound when you injured yourself you should go to a doctor to get it checked out.
My pain only came two days later, (the mighty kettlebell had kicked my butt when I tried doing some kettlebell windmills). This brings me to point 1. Prevention is better than the cure. In my case, I used a kettlebell that is too heavy for me for that particular exercise, and my form was probably wrong because I had started getting very fatigued. Always listen to your body and know your limits. Obviously when we try to get fitter and healthier we need to push ourselves. But pushing too hard too soon does more harm than good. Always warm up, and if you are doing cardio workouts, stretch after your warm up before you start your main exercises. I have heard that stretching before doing weights is bad because it will make your muscles looser and more prone to injury, but I have read way more articles that suggest doing some dynamic stretching before weights.
Unfortunately, pulling or tearing a muscle may still happen, even to the most experienced athlete. So when that does happen, what do you do? In the first 72 hours, its best to ice the injured muscle. Icing the muscle will help soothe the inflammation and bring down swelling. Do not apply ice directly to your skin, wrap the ice in a towel or cloth first. Ice the muscle no longer than 20 mins at a time and wait an hour before icing it again. You can take over the counter anti inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to help ease the pain. A pharmacist should be able to recommend the correct tablets should you ask for help or be allergic to anything. Rest the muscle as much as possible.
After 72 hours you can switch from ice to applying heat. Same as with icing, do not let the heat pad/hot water bottle be placed directly on your skin as it can cause burns. Apply heat for 15-20 mins at a time and wait an hour before applying heat again. This will help with blood circulation and help relax the muscle.
I also massaged arnica gel into my muscles. Don’t apply heat or ice directly after or before using arnica gel. Wait an hour before putting on the gel after icing or heating, or if you have used the gel first, wait and hour before using heat or ice. I used the gel 3 times a day. It worked quite well.
You can also try using elastic tape to keep the muscle in place a little better and provide support. Don’t wrap the muscle too tightly, you don’t want to cut off your circulation.
The best thing you can do is just take it easy. The first week or two will be most painful. I already started feeling better after the first week and a half. I am in my third week and apart from a slight twinge here or there, I am feeling much better and getting more active. I will wait until the pain is completely gone for a few days before starting to exercise my abs again. So if you are injured, take it easy and get well soon 🙂