Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is up. However, not all pain is “bad” pain. In fact feeling sore after a workout is very common and happens to most everyone no matter what his or her fitness level is.
What is important though is being able to discern between good pain, which is usually harmless and bad pain that may lead to further problems. So we are going to go over these two different types of pain and how to tell when your body has just had a good workout or if it is something a little more serious.
If you have ever had mild soreness walking up and down the stairs the day after a workout you were probably experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS for short. This is due to the breakdown of tissue your muscles underwent during exercise. This breakdown is essential in order for your muscles to adapt and be strengthened. This pattern of breaking down and building back up is how your body becomes stronger.
A good indicator that DOMS has occurred is if you feel soreness in the muscle groups you trained the previous day. For example, if you did squats the day before and your quads, hamstrings and glutes are sore; you are most likely experiencing DOMS. This soreness generally last for around 48-72 hours and otherwise should not be of much concern.
While DOMS can last for up to 72 hours, injuries can cause pain that lasts much longer than this. A good way to tell if you are experiencing pain from an injury is if the pain is sharp and localized. This pain is usually due to a torn muscle or joint damage. Either one of these sources of pain is a good indicator that you should let the area heal properly and seek medical attention.
A few of the pains you should look out for when exercising that may be signs of more serious injury are pulled muscles and achy joints. Pulled muscles are usually recognizable by a sudden tightening of a muscle. Achy joints may be recognized by a sharp pain occurring suddenly in the joint. Either one of these is a good indicator that you should take a break from that exercise and give the area special attention.
One of the best ways to prevent injuries and avoid pain during a workout is to warm up properly. Many injuries are caused by overuse of a muscle. By warming up the muscles before working out, you activate the surrounding muscles and ensure that they are supporting the main muscles being worked.
To reduce the affects of DOMS, try foam rolling after your workout to release the tension in your muscle fibers and to get the blood circulating to these muscles. This will ensure that nutrients that are important to recovery are being delivered more effectively to the muscle tissue.
By listening to your body and recognizing the types of pain your body may undergo, you can better prevent injury and reach your goals. Remember to seek medical attention for any pain that may be of concern.
By Wes Young