"How to Prevent Muscle Tears"

Muscles act as the levers to move the bones and structures of the body and for the purposes of bodybuilders are a fundamental building block of performance. Bodybuilders are particularly prone to muscle and tendon tears, as we cannot speak about these elements in isolation.

Muscles are full of innervated cells that relax and contract and end in tendons that anchor the muscle to essential attachment sites. With repetitive movements and sustained stress, bodybuilders can incur significant injuries that can impair full movement and require a lengthy recovery period. Learn how to best avoid muscle injuries.

When Do Tears Happen?

A load that exceeds the strength of the muscle can cause a muscle tear. Muscles that are flexible, instead of stiff, and loads that are added prior to the experience of muscle fatigue, are ways to protect oneself from a tear. A tear can occur to experienced athletes and performers, with at times an audible “pop” when a muscle tears. The muscle has reached its limit and like a rubber band has snapped rather than stretching farther.

See the video below for bicep tears and when they happen, the video isn't for the squeamish. 

Why is Flexibility Important?

All muscles work in pairs, and not only working on mirror muscles, but the coordinating opposing muscles, help ensure a smooth movement as the muscle contracts and lengthens and connected tendons and structures respond accordingly. Improving mobility and flexibility will also initiate strength gains in other exercises. Important areas, such as the shoulders, hips and knees, are vital in stabilizing the body during a movement.

Any weakness can cause instability in the body’s alignment and place an undue burden on compensating muscles. Tight muscles, such as hip flexors, can create an anterior tilt in the hips. As a results, hamstrings then need to stretch an extra two to three degrees. These hamstring muscles will then reach limits earlier during important phases of movement that can try the integrity of the muscle.

How Can Technique and Alignment Protect You?

Every person has their Achilles’ heel. Take the time to work on strengthening weak areas, such as in the hips, knees or shoulders. Weak areas can undermine a bodybuilder’s posture and force additional burdens on compensating muscles. Address the core groups:

  • Trunk and pelvic core; 
  • Hip muscles and quads; and
  • Hamstrings and calves on down.
Picture of the Achilles heel via looking at a skeletal structure of the heel and with the heel highlightedYour Achilles' Heel

Proper alignment of the body and specific work on weak areas can help protect bodybuilders from muscle tears and other injuries, such as tendonitis, sprains and strains. You can:

  • Work in front of a mirror to watch your body mechanics; 
  • Choose someone to watch and spot you, providing feedback on technique and posture; or
  • Set up your phone to capture video of performance to review later.

Proper body mechanics and alignment make a significant difference in the ability of the body to bear weight without injury.

picture of a measuring alignment tool showing balanced alignmentProper alignment is important

What Do You Do About Old Scars?

Bodybuilders and other athletes are driven to push the boundaries of their body, even after incurring and recovering from an injury. Even though scar tissue bridges the gap in a tear, it is less flexible than the original muscle.

This can impact the flexibility of an area and alter joint mechanics. Scar tissue that becomes permanent can create a “divot” in the muscle, altering the aesthetic look of the muscle while impeding full performance.

Bodybuilders turn to foam rollers and other treatments for a controlled way to work out existing scar tissue. It is possible to create controlled inflammation and realign protein collagen filaments to line up in a parallel series that improves overall muscle function.

It is easier for weightlifters and bodybuilders to avoid a muscle tear than attempt to retrain the body after an injury. Take the time to implement these strategies today and stay in the competition.

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Muscle Tear Prevention
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