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1 Introduction
2 Muscle Injury and Repair
3 Growth Factor Research
4 Application Techniques

A muscle strain is damage caused by over-stretching of muscle tissue. In football, this is thought to occur most frequently when movements such as sprinting, stretching for the ball or kicking the ball are carried out in an uncoordinated manner. The muscle tissue becomes overloaded and reaches a breaking point where a tear or partial tear occurs. The player will experience pain that will persist if they attempt to stretch or contract the muscle.

Depending on their severity, muscle strains are categorised into grades 1, 2 or 3:

  • Grade 1 Strain
    There is damage to individual muscle fibres (less than 5% of fibres). This is a mild strain that requires 2 to 3 weeks rest.

  • Grade 2 Strain
    There is more extensive damage, with more muscle fibres involved, but the muscle is not completely ruptured. The rest period required is usually between 3 and 6 weeks.

  • Grade 3 Strain
    This is a complete rupture of a muscle. In a sports person this will usually require surgery to repair the muscle. The rehabilitation time is around 3 months.

The healing process of a muscle strain begins with an inflammatory response that can last for three to five days. The muscle cells that are damaged during the muscle tear release chemicals called Growth Factors and Cytokines which mediate the healing response. These chemicals attract cells that remove dead muscle fibres and start the repair process.

The repair process consists of three stages:

  1. Regeneration of Muscle Fibres
    New muscle fibres grow from special cells within the muscle called satellite cells.

  2. Formation of Scar Tissue
    There is bleeding in the gap between the torn muscle ends and from this blood a matrix, or scaffold, is formed to anchor the two ends together. This matrix eventually forms a scar within the muscle that makes the muscle more resistant to further stretch damage.

  3. Maturation of the Scar Tissue
    The collagen fibres which make up the scar tissue become aligned along lines of external stress and are able to withstand more force.

3 Growth Factor Research