» Blog
» 7 Common Symptoms of Pulled Back Muscle & How To Get Relief
7 Common Symptoms of Pulled Back Muscle & How To Get Relief

7 Common Symptoms of Pulled Back Muscle & How To Get Relief

A pulled muscle occurs when a muscle or tendon is overstretched or torn. While muscle strains can occur anywhere in the body, they are most common in the lower back, neck, shoulders, and hamstrings. For the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on muscle strain in the lower back.

7 Common Symptoms of a Pulled Back Muscle

There are a variety of symptoms that you may experience if you’ve pulled a muscle in your back, including:

  • Dull, achy pain in the lower back
  • Localized pain that may radiate to the buttocks, thighs, and/or legs
  • Increased back pain with movement
  • Lower back stiffness
  • Difficulty standing, walking, bending and/or twisting
  • Muscle spasm
  • Muscle weakness 

Causes of a Pulled Back Muscle

Pulled muscles often occur due to overuse, fatigue, or improper use of a muscle. Common activities that results in pulled back muscles include:

  • Heavy lifting
  • Improper lifting technique
  • Lifting and twisting at the same time
  • A sudden jerky movement or fall
  • Sports that involve twisting movements such as tennis and golf

Classification of Pulled Muscles

Pulled muscles are classified as either strains or sprains. Strains, which are more common, involve a tendon that is overstretched or torn that is typically caused by overloading and stretching of a muscle or tendon resulting in a partial or complete tear. Sprains typically take longer to recover from and refer to a ligament that has been torn or stretched.

Treatment for a Pulled Muscle in the Back

Pulled muscles in the lower back usually heal quickly, with approximately 90% of cases resolving within a month. However, if you’re suffering with a pulled muscle you may be looking for ways to relieve your symptoms and encourage healing immediately. We’ll discuss 3 of the best treatment options you can try to decrease your symptoms and speed up healing so you can get back to your daily activities without pain.

  1. Ice and Heat Therapy

Icing the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, for the first 24 to 72 hours after injury, can help to decrease inflammation and pain. After the first 72 hours, you can apply moist heat to the area for 20 minutes at a time to soothe affected muscles and increase blood circulation to the area, which promotes healing.

  1. Massage Therapy (either in a clinic or self massage techniques)

Massage therapy helps to relax tightened muscles in the lower back, and increase blood circulation to the area, which promotes healing.

  1. Stretching

After the first 48 to 72 hours, you can start to add gentle stretching exercises into your day to decrease pain and increase range of motion. Below, we’ve outlined 3 great stretches to relieve symptoms of a pulled muscle in the lower back.

a. Cat and Camel

  • Begin on your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Inhale as your let your stomach drops towards the floor, as you look up towards the ceiling.
  • Then exhale and slowly round your spine towards the ceiling, while you press your hands into the floor, and flex your neck in towards your chest.
  • Aim for 3 sets of 10 repetitions of this exercise.

b. Bird Dog

  • Begin on your hands and knees on the floor.
  • Raise your right arm and reach forwards until it aligns with your torso.
  • At the same time, extend your left leg backwards until it aligns with your torso.
  • Hold this position for 2 to 3 seconds.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg.
  • Aim for 10 repetitions of this exercise on each side.

c. Half Cobra

  • Begin by lying on your stomach on the floor.
  • Slowly prop yourself up on your elbows, while your hips remain in contact with the floor.
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  • Slowly return to the starting position.
  • Aim for 5 repetitions of this stretch.

* Keep in mind that this position may be difficult initially, so ensure that you             start slowly and cautiously.


Pulled muscles in the lower back can be quite painful and you may be tempted to lay in bed; however, avoid resting for a prolonged period of time as this can actually lead to a worsening of symptoms. If you’ve tried home care and your symptoms persist, consider a consultation with one of the physical therapists at Blue Hills Sports & Spine Rehabilitation. They can assess your condition and develop a treatment program that may consist of manual therapy, as well as other treatment modalities to help speed up your healing and set you on the path towards optimal functioning.