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Chiropractic Care for a Pulled Muscle

Published Date: 
October 11, 2022
A man cannot stand up straight after pulling a muscle in his back after lifting heavy boxes.

When you pull on something, do you feel pain or discomfort? If so, then you may have a pulled muscle. Find out why chiropractors are great for pulled muscles. 

How Chiropractic Care Can Help with Pulled Muscles

A pulled muscle occurs when the muscle contracts too strongly or stretches beyond its limit. Dealing with a pulled muscle is no fun at all. But chiropractic care can help. Most people associate chiropractic care with spinal misalignment, but it helps treat pulled muscles too. Let's find out how.

What Is a Pulled Muscle?

A pulled muscle or a muscle strain is an overstretched or torn tendon in a muscle. Injury to the fibrous tissue may cause a partial tear or complete damage. Pulled muscles can occur almost anywhere in the body but are common in the lower back, hamstrings, neck, shoulders, and calves.

Pulled muscles usually cause immediate pain and limited movement. The severity of pulled muscles ranges from mild or moderate to extreme. Medics adopt the terms "grade one, two, and three strains" to classify similar ranges of muscle strains. You can treat mildly pulled muscles at home with adequate rest and massage. However, if you notice a popping or snapping sensation, visit a doctor or surgeon since the popping of the muscle is associated with a grade 3 muscle strain.

A man who works at a lumber yard is taking a break because he pulled a muscle in his back at work.

What Causes a Pulled Muscle?

A pulled muscle occurs when there is overuse, improper use, or mechanical injury to the muscle. A hard football tackle or side-stepping on the curb can cause a pulled muscle. According to Johns Hopkins, even simply walking can cause a pulled muscle. These are the main causes:

Vehicular Accidents 

Motor vehicle collisions, whether low or high impact, cause trauma to various body parts. You may experience soreness in the pulled muscle region and sharp or aching pain. Visiting a chiropractor after you’ve addressed more urgent medical concerns is essential. Car accidents can also cause whiplash injuries, bursitis, and other forms of trauma-induced complications. 

Sports Injuries

You will often hear a player pull out of a match due to a torn hamstring or calf injury. Highly intensive sports require regular use of the muscles, which strains them if you overwork them. In an athlete’s lifetime, they will likely sustain a pulled muscle at least twice in their career. Failure to warm up and poor muscle conditioning increases the risk of a pulled muscle in sports.

Workplace Accidents

Occupational hazards, especially in high-danger jobs, pose a severe risk of grade 3 muscle strains. Lifting heavy objects or repetitive movement of your muscles can cause muscle sprains. Work accidents such as falls cause pulled muscles, depending on the impact. 

Symptoms of a Pulled Muscle

The symptoms of a pulled muscle are usually immediate. You feel a sharp pain that may radiate around the affected region. Below is a breakdown of pulled muscle symptoms:

  • Muscle discoloration
  • Muscle swelling
  • Pop in the muscle at the time of injury
  • Muscle weakness or stiffness
  • Sudden pain
  • Limited range of movement
  • Muscle spasms

How to Prevent Pulled Muscles

There are steps you can take to prevent a muscle injury. The methods involve a mix of protective gear, lifestyle, and dietary adjustments. Do the following to avoid a pulled muscle:

  • Warm-up before a sports game.
  • Do stretching exercises to increase muscle flexibility, ideally in the morning and evening. 
  • Maintain good posture.
  • Lift objects using proper lifting techniques.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Eat foods rich in potassium before exercising to prevent muscle fatigue.
  • Do regular strength training to condition your muscles.

You can learn more about ten ways for athletes to prevent muscle strains.

A chiropractor is treating a man for a pulled muscle in his back.

How Can a Chiropractor Help with Pulled Muscle?

A serious strained muscle causes severe pain and may take several months to heal. You may resort to pain-relieving medication initially, which is okay. However, pain meds become ineffective over time and only minimize the pain. They don’t treat the strained muscles. Surgery and chiropractic care for pulled muscles are two practical treatment options.

Chiropractic care is non-invasive and all-natural, and it has a faster recovery period than surgery. Chiropractors run diagnostic tests, such as spatial and motion tests, to determine the degree of muscle injury and the cause. Rarely will they use imaging tests, but they can recommend them to reveal muscle structure. After an accurate diagnosis, the chiropractor recommends a treatment plan. 

Chiropractic treatment for pulled muscles involves hands-on manipulation, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE therapy), active release technique, and soft tissue therapy to reduce muscle inflammation and pain. The chiropractor will also realign your spine since the spine controls the body's overall health through the central nervous system. 

The active release technique breaks up the scar tissue that may be causing adhesions in the muscle fibers. At the same time, musculoskeletal adjustments lightly bring the torn muscles back into place, providing pain relief and restoring your range of motion. 

To expedite recovery, it is crucial to begin RICE treatment immediately after an injury. The significant benefits of chiropractic treatments for pulled muscles are that they work even for soft tissue injuries sustained years ago. Be sure to visit a reputable chiropractor for treatment if you have a muscle strain. Generally, you should not wait longer than 48 hours for your first visit. 


The slightest trauma can cause a pulled muscle. If you notice a pulled muscle, do not pop a painkiller to mask the symptoms. Seek a reputable chiropractor to treat your pulled muscle and experience lasting relief from muscle pain. 

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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