Pulled Back Muscle?

The 5 Most Important Steps to Take Now

pulled back muscle

What should you do when you pull a back muscle?

A pulled back muscle occurs when the muscle is stretched too far, causing small tears within the muscle.

If you haven’t already, you probably will at some point experience a pulled back muscle. It could happen during a game of golf, while cleaning the garage, or even on the dance floor.

A pulled back muscle may not sound like a serious injury, but the low back pain can be surprisingly severe. Fortunately, pulled back muscles usually heal within days or weeks.

While that pulled back muscle may seem to come on suddenly, chances are it was a long time coming. You could be ignoring some very important warning signs. Which means if you’re not in pain now, you might want to sit up and pay attention.

Do you sit in a chair all day? Do you exercise incorrectly? Are you under tremendous stress? Are you dehydrated? Are you substantially overweight?

Did you honestly answer yes to one or more of those questions? If so, then you’re at greater risk of muscle imbalances, trigger point pain, and at higher risk for injuries like a pulled back muscle.

But when you do experience pulled back muscles what do you do? You probably reach for a bottle of pain killers and go lie down. But what should you really do?

Here’s the 5 most important steps you can take now to help your body recover quickly from a pulled back muscle:

#1: Apply Cold

You should apply ice to your injury as soon as possible. The sooner you apply the ice the more it will help. Use a cold pack, a zip lock bag of crushed ice, or even a bag of frozen vegetables in a pinch.

Apply the cold pack in a circular massaging motion to prevent the ice from resting in one place too long. You can also place a thin towel between the compress and your skin to help prevent frostbite.

Ice can be applied up to 20 minutes at a time. Repeat over the course of the first few days, or after flare ups. The cold will cause nearby blood vessels to constrict and also help minimize swelling and painful inflammation.

The cold will stimulates your body to rush more oxygen-rich blood full of antibodies and vital nutrients to repair the injury and carry away waste products as it attempts to warm the area.

#2: Apply Heat

Try applying heat directly after the ice. This is a powerful way to “double-shock” your back muscles out of the pain-spasm cycle.

Apply 20 minutes of ice followed by 20 minutes of heat and repeat up to three times. This should provide some relief from even severe lower back pain.

There are many ways to apply heat, including a long hot shower, ultrasound, heating pad, and pain cream.

If you want the gold standard in heat for pain relief, try a far infrared heating pad, which produces heat that penetrates much deeper than the superficial heating a standard heating pad offers.

As heat is applied, your back muscles relax and circulation increases again as your body sends fresh blood supply to cool the area back to normal. Repeat heat treatments as necessary.

#3: Natural Anti-inflammatories

Think twice before you reach for that bottle of pain killer. It might kill more than just your pain.

The truth is inflammation is a normal part of the healing process. The problem with inflammation is our bodies lose the ability to turn off the inflammatory response as we get older.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen can help with both pain and inflammation, but they also carry significant cardiac and digestive health risks.

A better approach is to replace what your body stops producing enough of as you age… specifically, systemic proteolytic enzymes.

These are the same enzymes your body uses to naturally quell inflammation once healing is complete and clean up excess scar tissue. By giving your body what it needs to heal instead of masking the symptoms, you both reduce painful inflammation and speed up actual recovery time.

#4: Rest – But Not Too Much

Don’t rest too long. A little couch time won’t hurt, but light activity speeds recovery, so avoid lying down for long periods of time.

Growing evidence shows there is little or no benefit to bed rest over staying active. Listen to your body. Ultimately, your level of pain will determine your level of activity.

As a rule of thumb, if a certain activity led to a pulled muscle don’t repeat it for at least a week. For example, if your back pain started after lifting something heavy, avoid lifting heavy objects for at least a week while your back muscle heals.

#5: Stretching and Strengthening

You’ll want to be very careful your first couple of days, but some light stretching can often reduce lower back pain from a pulled muscle by relieving tension. Include both strengthening and stretching exercises.

Try this easy stretch while lying in bed. Gently raise your knees from the bed to your chest, then put a slight pressure on your knees for a light stretch in your lower back.

This stretch can help relieve pain spasms in your back faster than waiting on them to resolve on their own. The stretch should not add to your pain, so again, remember to listen to your body.

Prevent Back Muscle Pain

Often you can avoid back pain by taking some simple protective steps.

Watch what you eat. Stay away from inflammatory foods, such as baked goods, processed foods, fruit juice, soda, sweetened cereals, and fast food. They make your body more sensitive to pain.

Keep fresh fruits and vegetables a main part of your diet. Also eat foods rich in back pain-relieving Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, sardines, and walnuts.

You need protein in your diet to help repair damaged tissue and to build and strengthen muscle. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water to hydrate tissues and organs and allow your body to regulate its temperature throughout the day.

Relieve stress. Many people hold emotional stress in their muscles. Frequent stress, anxiety, and tension can lead to tight muscles and muscle strains. You may be able to prevent new or recurring back pain with simple techniques such as massage and meditation.

Studies show that massage is an effective way to reduce stress and relax tightened muscles. And if you haven’t tried meditation, maybe you should. As little as 10 minutes being still, breathing deep, and centering your thoughts can quiet both mind and body after a stressful day. In fact, here’s how you can try stress-relieving meditation free.

Support Your Back. What kind of support does your desk chair, car seat, or couch offer? Probably not enough.

Try using a back support cushion, or a back orthotic which cradles your pelvis and floats your spinal system to reduce all-day pressure buildup and automatically correct slouched sitting positions.

By improving your sitting posture you can relieve excess strain on back muscles that can make you prone to a pulled back muscle

Do you find articles like this helpful? Get the best back pain articles, including exclusive subscriber-only content, sent straight to your Inbox by subscribing to the web’s best back pain newsletter!

It’s free, your information remains private and you can unsubscribe at any time. Simply enter your email address in the box at the top of the page and click Subscribe Now!


Filed Under: Back PainJesse Cannone
Written By: January 6,2012

7 thoughts on “Pulled Back Muscle?”

  1. Peggy says:

    I pulled a muscle in my lower back on the right side two weeks ago and still have a lot of pain. I have used ice and heat, rub on relief, stretching and inversion table. Although it gets better as the day goes on, sleeping is causing the worse problem. Even though I sleep with a pillow under my legs every time I turn it really hurts and by morning I can barely move again and seems to be getting worse as time goes on and now hurts in my hip when I walk. Any other suggestions?

  2. Bob says:

    “Stay away from inflammatory foods, such as baked goods, processed foods, fruit juice, soda, sweetened cereals, and fast food. They make your body more sensitive to pain.”

    I would like to see a scientific reference provided for this claim.

  3. Steve says:


    As part of the global benefit of a blog it, allows individuals to ask some really good questions and then it allow us to give the best response we can, That said, here is the thing, we believe that book are a far better resource for the average individual as they are written in a way that people can understand the content and yes they give more then enough resources, so to answer you question, I suggest this web site and this book http://inflammationfactor.com/

    Further more this page on the site even ranks each food by how good or bad they are from an inflammation perspective… http://inflammationfactor.com/look-up-if-ratings/


  4. Martins daniel babatunde says:

    My pain is from the waistline through the tigh to my legs. I always pull muscles and my knees now hurt, when I bend down it hurt and painful to get up, I don’t know what to do.

  5. Admin says:

    Hi Martins daniel babatunde,

    A good step for you to take is to get a copy of our free back pain book. It will help you understand more about the back and possible causes of pain. It also details treatment options and pain relief for you to consider.


    Thank you
    (The Healthy Back Institute)

  6. Joyce says:

    Looking for just one news article per page so I can read and either file under one topic
    for later referral to doctor or friend or to delete if not of interest to me or friends.

    Mainly as I have to cut down of which emails I receive, so one topics will have first choice
    to keep.

  7. Steve says:

    Joyce, I understand you point of view, and this is what I have done personally, I have set rules in my inbox to direct those emails that come to me, and they all go in different folders, I have folder for Health and Money and Sports and then I have also saved my most trusted sites and if I need any info I simply search those sites for the Info Im looking for…

    And that has help me keep my Inbox clean and still get all the good info I need


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The Healthy Back Institute BBB Business Review INC 500    

Hear What Others Are Saying...

  • 7 Day Back Pain Cure
  • Arthritis Reversed
  • Back Ease
  • End of All Diseases
  • Eye Health Essentials
  • Heal-n-Soothe
  • Heating Pads
  • Inversion Table
  • Lose The Back Pain System
  • Rub on Relief
  • Super Joint Support