Abdominal Muscle Strain



This problem may be caused by:

  • An activity that the muscle is not ready for
  • Excessive exercise
  • Improper technique while playing sports
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Sharply twisting the body
Abdominal Muscles—Side View
Abdominal muscle and pelvis
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Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Playing certain sports, such as football or tennis
  • Previous strain or injury to the area
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Tight abdominal muscles



Problems may be:

  • Pain that may be worse when sneezing, coughing, or twisting the body
  • Pain when touching the area
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Muscle spasms


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will also be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.



Most people get better in a few weeks. The goal of treatment is to ease pain and improve movement. This may be done with:

Initial Care

The muscle will need time to heal. Supportive care may include:

  • Rest to give the area time to heal
  • Ice packs to ease pain and swelling

Medicine may also be given to ease pain and swelling.

Physical Therapy

An exercise program will be created to promote strength, flexibility, and range of motion.


The risk of this problem may be lowered by:

  • Using the right techniques when playing sports or doing things like lifting heavy objects
  • Stretching and strengthening the abdominal muscles
  • Resting when muscles are tired

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.