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Have you ever been playing a sport or doing your favorite activity when suddenly a muscle goes into spasm and quite literally “grabs” your attention and steals your movement mojo?

If so then you know what it’s like to experience a muscle strain, or “pulled” muscle.

There is one thing you absolutely MUST do to recover quickly – and one thing you must NOT do.

I’ll get to those in a moment.

First, it’s important to understand WHY strains happen, because – while I am sure some of you are here and currently experiencing a strain or pulled muscle – I am hoping the rest of you will use this information to prevent this from happening in the first place (can we make prevention sexy please?!)

In order to understand why and how a strain happens, we have to understand how muscles work.

Reciprocal inhibition – the key to understanding muscles and injury recovery/prevention!

I’ve had my eye on this process for over 5 years as a guiding touchstone for how to help people in pain and it’s never failed me. I’ll certainly do an entire episode dedicated to just this because the topic seems sorely lacking in the field of pain relief and injury recovery/prevention; but for now we’ll explore it in relationship to strains and pulled muscles.

Reciprocal inhibition is a process by which opposing muscle groups (and the nerves that act on them) work synergistically on a joint: one group flexes that joint while the other extends it.

In order for one muscle or group to contract, the opposing muscle or group MUST relax and stretch.

The simplest example of this is: when you contract your hamstrings your quad has to stretch and relax, right? The opposite is true as well: in order to stretch the quads, the hamstring must contract. (Think of a standing quad stretch).

How this relates to muscle strains:

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