Dealing with pulled abdominal muscles

A pulled abdominal muscle is also called muscle strain caused by injury to the abdominal area due to excessive strain. This condition can be mild, moderate or severe and can be due to a strain of a muscle fiber or it can be a tear. A severe condition can result to an umbilical hernia.

This injury usually happens when performing high-energy sports movements such as throwing, batting, serving a tennis ball and spiking in volleyball. These movements cause the muscles to be stretched and strongly contracted during these movements and making them susceptible to tears. The strains can be mild, moderate and acute.


Take the prescribed over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to lessen the swelling and pain.


  • A mild strain have slight pain and inflammation and last for only a few days.
  • Moderate strains have high levels of pain and there is a need to stop performing activities such as twisting and turning until the condition totally heals.
  • Acute strains have severe pain, bruising and spasms in the area
  • Pain becomes worst especially when coughing, sneezing, laughing, deep breathing and performing movements that stretch the injured muscles
  • Tenderness when pressed
  • Pain when standing for longer times
  • Pain when lifting heavy objects and standing for a long time

Treatment for pulled abdominal muscles

  • Apply cold therapy immediately after the injury to lessen the pain, bleeding and swelling. Cold therapy can be in the form of ice placed in a plastic bag or ice pack.
  • Take plenty of rest for at least a few weeks until the pain totally disappears.
  • Take the prescribed over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen to lessen the swelling and pain.
  • Perform deep tissue sports massage to realign new collagen fibers and prevent forming of adhesions in the tendon. Massage increases the flow of blood in the area and relaxes tight muscle knots.
  • Apply heat wraps on the affected area to relieve the sore muscles.
  • Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises to lessen the pain and abdominal and core strengthening exercises.


  • When resting, sit in a recliner to lessen the strain placed on the muscles of the stomach.
  • Bend from the knees when picking up heavy objects to lessen the strain and injury placed on the back and the abdomen.
  • After 24 hours if the pain becomes severe or feels like a stabbing pain and a lump develops in the abdomen, it needs to be treated immediately since it can be a symptom of a hernia.

Disclaimer / More Information

The material posted on this page on pulled abdominal muscles is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage this muscle injury by taking a first aid and CPR class with one of our training providers.


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