Osteopathy for Leg Muscle Injuries

  This article was originally published by OsteoInfo.com.au.

Leg strain and tear injuries are commonly associated with athletes who run, jump and kick but can also occur with overactive gardeners and sudden movements (for example miss-footing a step).

Muscle Injury

  • A muscle is generally injured in 4 places (The origin, insertion, the junction between tendon and muscle or in the belly of the muscle).
  • The most common spot for strain is at junction between the muscle and tendon.
  • Injury often occurs when the muscle is becoming longer.
  • The injury is graded 1 to 3:
    • Grade 1: Tearing of only a few muscle or tendon fibers. No loss of strength.
    • Grade 2: A more severe tear with a higher number of fibers disrupted. Some loss of strength.
    • Grade 3: A complete tear. Strength and movement is significantly limited.


  • Poor warm up routine
  • Poor flexibility and/or poor stretching regime
  • Excessively tight muscles
  • Poor/inadequate strength, endurance and or conditioning of the muscle
  • An imbalance of stretching between the leg muscles and other muscles around the knee, foot, pelvis, and low back.
  • Returning to activity before complete healing of the injury.
  • Muscle fatigue, overuse or poor recovery.
  • A previous injury

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain and tenderness over the site of the injury
  • Pain with certain leg movements
  • There may be bruising over the damaged area.
  • There may be a feeling of hardness or a lump over the damaged area.

Osteopathic Diagnosis and Treatment

  • A comprehensive past medical history and physical examination will assist with determining the site and grading of the tear or strain.
  • You may require referral for imaging (commonly ultrasound or MRI) to determine the exact extent of the damage or to rule out other causes of the pain.
  • Initial treatment focuses on reducing pain, enhancing drainage and promoting blood flow to the damaged area.
  • Your osteopath will also work through related muscles and other structures to ensure proper freedom of movement which may enhance the healing process.


Management is determined by the severity of the injury (your osteopath will assist in determining the grade of the injury).
  • Immobilization: rest the muscle for 24-48 hours
  • Ice is beneficial in the first 24-48 hours (3 sets of 10 minutes on 10 minutes off - 2 or 3 times per day). Stop using ice with any discomfort or if there is no relief.
  • Compression (e.g. strapping over the damaged area) for the first 24-48 hours.
  • Anti-Inflammatory/Pain Reliever/Analgesic Medication as prescribed by your general practitioner or pharmacist.
  • Stretching: Stretching is beneficial with approximately 24-72 hours after the injury (depending on the grading). Your osteopath will determine when to commence stretching the muscle. Gentle stretching is generally indicated 4-5 times per day once safe to do so.
  • Strengthening: is generally recommended 2-7 days after the injury (your osteopath will determine when to commence strengthening.
  • Click Here for stretches for The Hip
  • Click Here for strengthening for The Hip

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