Deep tissue injury (DTI) is a severe form of pressure ulcer where tissue damage starts in deep tissues underneath intact skin. In the present study, the contributions of deformation, ischemia, and reperfusion to skeletal muscle damage development were examined in a rat model during a 6-h period. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to study perfusion (contrast-enhanced MRI) and tissue integrity (T2-weighted MRI). The levels of tissue deformation were estimated using finite element models. Complete ischemia caused a gradual homogeneous increase in T2 (~20% during the 6-h period). The effect of reperfusion on T2 was highly variable, depending on the anatomical location. In experiments involving deformation, inevitably associated with partial ischemia, a variable T2 increase (17–66% during the 6-h period) was observed reflecting the significant variation in deformation (with two-dimensional strain energies of 0.60–1.51 J/mm) and ischemia (50.8–99.8% of the leg) between experiments. These results imply that deformation, ischemia, and reperfusion all contribute to the damage process during prolonged loading, although their importance varies with time. The critical deformation threshold and period of ischemia that cause muscle damage will certainly vary between individuals. These variations are related to intrinsic factors, such as pathological state, which partly explain the individual susceptibility to the development of DTI and highlight the need for regular assessments of individual subjects.