An abdominal muscle strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle in your belly. A strain may also be called a "pulled" muscle.
You may strain your muscles during an activity like lifting or twisting or even hard coughing or sneezing. Muscles can also get strained from overuse, like from doing lots of sit-ups or crunches.
You have soreness or pain in the surface of your belly, especially when you use your abdominal muscles.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and activities and examine your belly. Your provider will ask you to do an exercise, like a sit-up, to see if it causes pain. You may have tests to look for other causes of the pain.
You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until your muscles have healed.
Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises and other types of physical therapy to help you heal.
A mild strain may heal within a few weeks. A more severe strain may take 6 weeks or longer.
To help relieve pain:
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. Strong, flexible muscles are less likely to be strained. You can strengthen your abdominal muscles by doing sit-ups or abdominal crunches.
Be sure to not overdo it when you start an exercise program.
When you lift heavy objects, bend your knees and hips and keep your back straight.