Your rectus abdominis muscle sits in the front of your abdomen between your ribs and pubic bone. This muscle has a characteristic look and is commonly called "the six pack" if the abdomen is well-toned. The rectus abdominis helps your body move between the ribcage and pelvis. A tear in this muscle can occur when it is overstretched and overused. Running with a rectus abdominis tear can cause pain and you should rest to prevent further injury.
The rectus abdominis muscle can become pulled, or torn, by an accident or improper use of the muscle. For example, the injury may occur during sports in which you do a lot of twisting and turning, like football or tennis. A tear can also occur during warm-up exercises that you do before a run if you are not properly using the muscle. Poor flexibility may also be to blame. Running with a rectus abdominis tear before it heals may cause the injury to worsen.
When you have a torn rectus abdominis, you will feel pain, most often during intense runs versus light jogging, indicates the Cleveland Clinic. You will probably also experience pain during coughing, laughing and sneezing. You may also have bruised skin, swelling and stiffness if you sit for a while. Most people ignore mild pain when they run, but if the pain is severe, steadily becomes worse, or you see a lot of bruising, you need to consult your doctor.
If you know you injured your rectus abdominis muscle, apply ice right away to decrease potential swelling. Apply the ice for 10 minutes each hour on the first day of the injury, then apply ice every three to four hours. Use the ice on the first three days after your injury, then use heat to help with healing. According to MedlinePlus, rest the muscle for at least a day. You should not run with a torn rectus abdominis muscle or use the muscle in any way while it is painful. Resume your running routine slowly when the pain subsides.
Prevent a rectus abdominis tear from occurring in the first place by warming up and stretching before running or doing any other type of exercise. In addition, do abdominal strengthening exercises. Finally, the Cleveland Clinic advises that you should rest if you are feeling any abdominal discomfort so muscle overstretching and tearing does not occur.