A torn oblique, also known as a side strain, is a common injury particularly with baseball pitchers, tennis players and golfers. The obliques are part of the lateral anterior abdomen and are one of the more superficial muscles of your “core”. The oblique muscles are present to the side of the abdomen taking up space in between your hip and ribs and are of two types, external and internal oblique. A torn oblique can hamper your ability to turn and move as the obliques aid to body in twisting and turning.
Source: Bare Bones Yoga
Causes Of A Torn Oblique Muscle
Outside of an awkward or over exerted twist or turn, usually when playing sports, here are some of the other causes of a torn oblique muscle:
- Overdoing exercises such as crunches and sit-ups.
- Continuous coughing or sneezing for long hours can also result in a side strain
- Being seated in one place for a long duration.
- Bad posture.
- A direct blow to the abdomen
- Insufficient warming up/cooling down when playing sports
Common symptoms of a side strain are as follows:
- Stiffness in the oblique upon waking up is a common symptom of a torn oblique and hinder daily routine activities.
- Experiencing pain every time the muscle contracts even during simple activities like sitting or lying down.
- Pain upon coughing or sneezing or even laughing too much.
- Bruising or swelling around the muscles.
- Pain in the lower part of the chest.
Note: Not treating the injury in time means it also has a weakening effect on the trunk muscle fibers, in turn, leaving you at risk of even more severe strains and injuries.
Knowing how to treat a torn oblique quickly can speed up recovery and ensure you are back to full fitness within a matter of days or weeks. In the most severe of cases recovery can take up to 8-10 weeks.
As in case of most injuries, applying an ice pack is the first and foremost treatment given for the first 48 hours. It helps to reduce swelling and inflammation which makes the pain bearable.
Make sure you’re applying ice every 2-3 hours for durations of 20 minutes.
After the first few days, heat applied to the injury can help the healing process. Heating increases the blood flow to the affected muscle, in turn, improving the recovery process. Heat should not be applied for more than 10-15 minutes at a time.
In case you are diabetic or have blockages in your veins make sure you consult a doctor/therapist before switching to heat therapy.
You can also have painkillers such as such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) prescribed by a therapist in case of severe pain.
Once the pain subsides you can introduce some basic exercises back into your schedule.
Few exercises that can speed up recovery are:
- Abdominal stretches
- Side Planks
A few weeks into your recovery period you can also add in resistance bands, medicine ball and light jogging into your workouts. This will help strengthen the core so you can get back on the field with all guns blazing.
Last but not the least comes one the most important healing factors and yes, it’s rest. Since the body heals mostly during sleep, it’s important you get at least 8-9 hours of sleep. Resting also ensures you don’t further aggravate your injury.