Best health exercises site

Abdominal Muscle Strain

Abdominal muscle strain is a stretch or tear of the abdominal wall musculature. The abdominal wall musculature includes rectus abdominus, internal/external obliques, and transverse abdominus. It is a result of an abrupt movement of the trunk like lifting or twisting or even hard coughing or sneezing.

Sometimes the injury is subacute caused by repetitive activity muscles like from doing lots of sit-ups or crunches.

It is seen in runners, as the abdominal muscles are used for pelvic stabilization or Sports with repetitive trunk rotation have higher rates like soccer, tennis, ice hockey, gymnastics, pole vault at times Attributed to weight training and abdominal workouts as well.

Risk Factors include poor conditioning of abdominal musculature or deficits in core strength, earlier abdominal wall muscle strain or tear or poor weight training or conditioning techniques

abdominal wall anatomy
abdominal wall anatomy

Symptoms include soreness or pain in the surface of your belly especially on use of abdominal muscles.

Physical exam: Local tenderness, swelling, muscle spasm, and some loss of strength may be present. However, in case of a third-degree tear or complete muscle rupture, a defect or void may be palpated in the muscle immediately after injury. Within several hours, however, hemorrhage and edema may make the defect in the muscle tissue less obvious.


  • The aim of treatment is to reduce pain, inflammation, and bleeding.
  • Treatment of first- to second-degree abdominal strains consists of ice application and rest to provide pain relief.
  • Pain can usually be controlled by taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the initial 36 to 48 hours.
  • After 48 hours, moist heat may be applied to the area. Ice and heat help manage pain.
  • Between treatments, a loosely wrapped elastic bandage or abdominal corset may be worn for compression and restriction of movement.
  • Any activity involving lifting, twisting, or sudden stretching should be avoided as it may increase pain and prolong healing.
  • Begin with passive stretching.
  • Advance to strengthening activities.
  • Progress to sport-specific activities


The abdominal muscle strength and core strength/stability are assessed and a rehab program is initiated once pain has subsided.

Additional Therapies

Modalities such as US, TENS or muscle stimulation may help alleviate symptoms.

In some cases, third-degree strains may require surgical repair or reconstruction of the torn abdominal wall muscle. Surgery may be necessary in cases of rectus sheath hematoma, hernia, or intra-abdominal process.