Skipping your usual warmup and stretch, you begin another set of cable crunches. As you contract your abs for that next repetition, something doesn’t quite feel right. There’s pain in your stomach. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or twisting, your abs are hurting. What you’re most likely experiencing is an abdominal tear.
Also called an abdominal strain, an abdominal tear occurs when you over stress the muscles in your stomach. This could be from using too much weight, performing too many repetitions, or excessive coughing and sneezing when you’re sick.
If you think you have an abdominal tear, here’s what you need to do, and how to prevent it from happening again.
Treating an Abdominal Tear at Home:
Abdominal tears are unpleasant, but the majority of cases don’t require a doctor’s visit. Instead, follow these steps:
Stop the Activity: The first thing you should do is put down the weight and get off the bench. Stop the activity that caused the strain. If it was due to coughing or sneezing, begin taking a cough suppressant or an antihistamine.
Ice, Not Heat: An abdominal tear is going to cause immediate inflammation. The best way to lower inflammation and reduce pain is to apply ice on your abs for 10 to 15 minute intervals throughout the day.
Take a NSAID: We don’t recommend these for long-term use, but a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug can help you get back into a normal routine as your abs heal. They are available over-the-counter, and this is typically what your doctor will recommend picking up.
Heat Therapy: Once the inflammation has reduced – usually after two or three days – you can begin to introduce heat to your abs. A heating pad is great, but a sauna is better. You should alternate between cold and heat therapy throughout the day.
Rest: Above all, make sure you are resting. This means avoiding excessive physical activity and getting plenty of sleep – no less than seven hours.
When to See a Professional:
If your symptoms don’t improve or if they worsen, we would recommend seeing a doctor. Get to a hospital if you experience cold sweats and dizziness.
How to Prevent an Abdominal Tear:
The key to preventing an abdominal tear is a thorough warmup and stretch. It’s not the sexiest part of your workout, but it’s arguably the most important.
Take 10 to 15 minutes to warm up the body with a cardiovascular-focused activity such as jogging, jumping jacks, or using the stepper.
Follow this with a bottom-to-top stretching session, giving extra care to the entire core. This means stretching the front abdominal wall, obliques or side of your core, and your lower back and butt.
Abdominal tears aren’t pleasant. They cause plenty of pain and keep you from getting to the gym. Take the time to warmup and stretch in order to prevent an abdominal strain.
Please Note: Before following exercise routines or changing your fitness regime, please consult a certified fitness professional. Always talk with a medical practitioner before following dietary advice or taking supplements.