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Abdominal Muscle Strain

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Abdominal Muscle Strain

(Pulled Muscle in Abdomen; Strain, Abdominal Muscle)


An abdominal muscle strain is a partial or full tear of the small muscle fibers in the abdomen.


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 pelvishttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=77467746AN00062_105433_1.jpgAN00062NULLjpgAbdominal muscle and pelvisNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\AN00062_105433_1.jpgNULL63NULL2008-12-164002157746_445927Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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:


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




  • Muscle strain (pulled muscle). Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/orthopaedic-surgery/specialty-areas/sports-medicine/conditions-we-treat/muscle-strains.html. Accessed September 15, 2021.
  • Sprains, strains, and tears. American College of Sports Medicine website. Available at: https://www.acsm.org/docs/default-source/files-for-resource-library/sprains-strains-and-tears.pdf?sfvrsn=5b229fcf_2. Accessed September 15, 2021.


  • Mary-Beth Seymour, RN
Last Updated:

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.