Abdominal Strains and Therapeutic Ultrasound
Although abdominal strains are not very common in sports, damage to these muscles can result from overstretching or sudden twisting movements, and can manifest in the form of strains or tears.
The abdominal section of the body is made up of four large muscles, and all of them are susceptible to injury. The muscles include the rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques, and the transverse abdominis.
Abdominal strains can be particularly difficult to deal with, since the abdomen is the core of the body and used constantly when moving, standing, or even just sitting around. Pain, stiffness, and swelling are all common symptoms of an abdominal strain.
Some common causes of abdominal strain are:
- Sports that involve twisting core movements (tennis, baseball, hockey, golf)
- Lifting heavy objects
- Overtraining or poor form when performing abdominal exercises, such as planks or situps
With an abdominal strain it is important to cease any activity that places too much stress on the stomach muscles, such as sports where twisting or heavy lifting is involved.
Rest and icing the strained muscles in short intervals of 20 minutes can be helpful, as well as taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen.
Therapeutic ultrasound can be a good choice of passive treatment, since it reduces swelling and speeds up the healing process. Therapeutic ultrasound works via sound waves that penetrate skin and promote blood flow to the muscles and decrease inflammation, allowing the muscles to heal without the need to move the injured area.
Once the muscles feel less painful and heal, there are a variety of exercises that can help tighten and strengthen muscles, and prevent the problem from happening again.
These exercises include isometric exercises where the abdominals are under constant tension without movement. This is important because one of the main functions of the abdominal muscles is to resist motion. Examples of such exercises include the Pallof Press, the side plank, and the regular plank.
Use caution not to use ultrasound over any major organs and as always consult with your health care provider before starting treatments.