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Side strain refers to damage and the experience of oblique muscle pain, muscles which run from the bottom of the rib cage to top of the pelvis. They work to work to flex the back, such as when performing sit ups, as well as to aid in rotation of the trunk. Another function of oblique muscles is to aid in exhalation during breathing.
Side strains are fairly common amongst bowlers in cricket who very quickly rotate and flex their trunk during delivery. Injury can occur acutely if the muscles are stretched beyond their capacity or it may occur due to overuse over time.
Depending on the severity of the strain, symptoms can vary from mild discomfort at a grade I tear to high levels of pain with all trunk movements and even breathing if the muscle is ruptured as a grade III tear.
Initial treatment is rest, ice and compression. Even with a Grade I tear it is essential to rest, once there is some damage it won’t take much more activity for the injury to progress. Icing the area can help with pain relief and aid in the reduction of any swelling. After some time of rest a physiotherapist will be able to provide correct stretching and exercises to carry out that will aid in the recovery process, ensuring the muscle heals well. Correct warm ups and stretching routines will help to avoid side strains, as will good muscle conditioning. For athletes placing a lot of strain on their muscles it is key to prepare correctly for activity.