Example sentence:

She tried to lift herself from the bed but only managed to __ her biceps, as if she’d done arm wrestling. Still, she gave it another shot.

I thought of the word strain but I think it implies that there's an injury?

  • To my ear, 'strain' works fine. I think technically a strain is a minor injury - that's why it hurts - but you've scaled it by equating it to arm-wrestling. – peterG Jun 17 '17 at 13:48
  • "Irritate" might work. – fixer1234 Jun 17 '17 at 18:33
  • "Inflame" might also work, but "strain" is probably appropriate. – Xanne Jun 18 '17 at 1:47

"She only managed to hurt her biceps."

HURT -- Definition in Merriam-Webster

(transitive verb) 1 a : to inflict with physical pain : wound


He hurt his back while moving some boxes.

was seriously hurt in a car accident

You're hurting my arm!


Injure [in-jer] verb (used with object)

  1. to do or cause harm of any kind to; damage; hurt; impair:

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