5 Effective Ways to Heal a Pulled Chest Muscle Quickly

a person holding his chest with pulled muscle in chest
a person holding his chest with pulled muscle in chest

A pulled chest muscle can cause sharp pain and discomfort, limiting daily activities and physical participation. Whether it happens during a workout, while lifting heavy objects, or due to sudden movements, healing a pulled chest muscle quickly is crucial for a speedy recovery.

In this blog post, we will explore five effective methods to help you heal a pulled chest muscle and get back to your normal routine as soon as possible. Let’s delve into these tried and tested techniques for a speedy recovery!

More Posts Like This By Intecore Physical Therapy:

The Key to a Strong and Injury-Free Body: Importance of Physical Therapy for Body Maintenance

5 Essential Tech Neck Exercises to Alleviate Pain and Improve Posture

Quick Relief: Tips for Managing Sudden Hip and Lower Back Pain

Common Pulled Chest Muscle Symptoms

  1. Pain: The most immediate and noticeable symptom is pain in the chest area. This pain can be sharp and intense, especially when you make movements involving the chest muscles, such as pulling, lifting, or even deep breathing.
  2. Swelling: Inflammation is a typical response to injury, including muscle strains. You might notice swelling or puffiness in the chest area, which can further contribute to discomfort or tightness.
  3. Redness and Warmth: The affected area may appear red and feel warm to the touch. This is due to increased blood flow to the area as the body tries to heal the injury.
  4. Limited Range of Motion: You may find it difficult to perform certain movements without pain. Actions such as stretching, reaching, or even turning the body might be restricted or painful.
  5. Bruising: In more severe cases, bruising may appear around the affected muscle. This occurs when small blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, leading to blood leaks into the surrounding tissue.
  6. Muscle Weakness: The injured muscle may feel weaker than usual, making it difficult to perform usual tasks that require upper body strength.
  7. Muscle Spasms: Occasionally, the strained muscle may spasm or contract involuntarily, which can cause sudden bouts of pain.

5 Ways To Heal Pulled Chest Muscle

Method 1: Rest

As a physical therapist, one of the key pieces of advice I give to patients with a pulled chest muscle is the importance of rest. When you experience a muscle strain in the chest, it means that the muscle fibers have been overstretched or torn. This is not just painful; it’s a clear signal from your body that it needs time to repair and heal.

Why Rest is Crucial

  1. Prevents Further Injury: Continuing to engage in activities that use the chest muscles, like lifting or certain sports, can exacerbate the injury. This can lead to a more severe tear or even a chronic problem that’s harder to heal.
  2. Reduces Inflammation: Rest helps in reducing the inflammation that typically occurs at the site of the injury. Inflammation is a natural response of your body to injury, but excessive inflammation can increase pain and slow down the healing process.
  3. Facilitates Healing: When at rest, your body directs more blood flow to the injured area, bringing nutrients and oxygen that are crucial for healing. Muscle repair occurs most effectively when the muscle is not under continual stress.

How to Rest Effectively

  • Limit Movement: Avoid movements that trigger pain in the affected area. This might mean modifying your daily activities to ensure that the chest muscle can rest as much as possible.
  • Use Supportive Measures: Sometimes, using a sling or other support can help minimize movement and provide the stability needed for healing.
  • Sleep Right: Ensure you’re sleeping in a position that doesn’t put extra strain on the injured muscle. Sometimes, sleeping in a more reclined position can help.
  • Follow a Structured Plan: It’s important to follow a plan that gradually reintroduces activity to the muscle without overstressing it. As a physical therapist, I can guide you through specific exercises that help maintain muscle tone and flexibility during the healing process.

Method 2: Ice Therapy

Ice therapy is an effective treatment for managing the initial symptoms of a pulled chest muscle. Here’s how it helps:

  1. Reduces Inflammation: Applying ice to the injured area helps reduce the swelling by constricting blood vessels, which slows the flow of blood and other fluids into the tissues around the injured muscle.
  2. Eases Pain: Ice numbs the sore tissues, acting as a local anesthetic. This temporary reduction in pain can make it more comfortable to move and perform gentle stretches that aid in healing.
  3. Limits Muscle Spasms: Cold therapy can help reduce the frequency and severity of muscle spasms associated with a muscle strain.
  4. Decreases Tissue Damage: By slowing the metabolic rate of the injured muscle, ice therapy reduces the tissue’s oxygen requirement, which minimizes cell death and tissue damage.

Application Tips: Apply an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel to prevent direct skin contact. Use the ice pack for 15-20 minutes every hour for the first 24-48 hours after the injury.

Method 3: Compression

Compression is another key method in the treatment of a pulled chest muscle. Here’s how compression helps in the healing process:

  1. Reduces Swelling: Compression garments or wraps help limit the amount of swelling by applying steady pressure to the injured area. This not only helps reduce swelling but also may increase the pain threshold.
  2. Supports the Muscle: By providing support to the injured muscle, compression can help reduce the muscle’s workload and protect it from further strain during the healing process.
  3. Improves Circulation: While too tight compression can hinder circulation, the right amount of compression can actually promote increased blood flow to the area. This improved circulation can help accelerate the healing process by delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the injured muscle while facilitating the removal of waste products.
  4. Limits Movement: A compression wrap can limit the range of motion of the injured muscle, which helps prevent it from being overstretched or strained further during the healing process.

Application Tips: Ensure the compression is snug but not too tight as to cut off circulation. The wrap should cover not only the site of the injury but also the areas around it. If numbness, tingling, increased pain, or swelling occurs below the wrapped area, loosen the compression.

Method 4: Heat Therapy

Heat therapy can be a beneficial treatment for a pulled chest muscle, especially during the later stages of healing, once inflammation has decreased. Here’s how heat therapy aids in recovery:

  1. Relaxes and Soothes Muscles: Heat increases the elasticity of muscle tissues, making them more flexible. This relaxation helps to soothe discomfort and ease muscle tightness.
  2. Improves Blood Flow: Heat expands blood vessels, which improves circulation to the area. Increased blood flow delivers more oxygen and nutrients, which are essential for healing, and helps to clear out waste products from muscle breakdown.
  3. Reduces Pain: The warmth from heat therapy can reduce the perception of pain, providing a comforting sensation that can distract from the discomfort of the injury.
  4. Facilitates Stretching: Warm muscles stretch more easily and with less discomfort. This is particularly beneficial when incorporating gentle stretches and exercises into the recovery process.

Application Tips: Use a warm compress or a heating pad on the injured area for 15-20 minutes at a time. Avoid applying heat directly to the skin to prevent burns, and never use heat therapy if inflammation is still present, as it can worsen swelling.

Method 5: Gentle Stretches and Exercises

As your chest muscle begins to heal, gentle stretches and exercises are crucial in preventing stiffness and maintaining range of motion. These should be performed only when the sharp pain subsides. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Gentle Stretching: Start with mild stretches that do not cause any pain. For example, a door frame stretch, where you place your forearms against a door frame and gently lean forward to stretch the chest muscles, can be beneficial.
  2. Progressive Loading: Gradually increase the load on your muscles as they heal. Begin with exercises that have little to no weight, and slowly increase as your strength and comfort allow.
  3. Controlled Movements: Focus on controlled, smooth movements to strengthen the muscle without overstressing it. Exercises like wall push-ups or light dumbbell flies can be effective.
  4. Consistency: Regular, daily exercises and stretches ensure steady progress in healing. Each session should leave the muscle feeling better, not worse.
  5. Consult a Professional: Before starting any stretches or exercises, consult with a physical therapist or healthcare provider to ensure that the exercises are appropriate for your specific condition.

Ready To Get Help With Physical Therapy?

If you’re struggling with a pulled chest muscle and want some help – we’re here for you.

Click here to fill out an inquiry form to tell us what’s going on, or call us (360) 474-3274 and we’ll get you the help you need.

Andrew Vertson