For exercise to be effective, the body must be taken out of its comfort zone by varying the intensity or duration of exercise, or trying novel activities that the individual is not used to. Challenging yourself through exercise in this way can often be uncomfortable and it’s important to be able to recognize the difference between soreness and pain. While post-exercise soreness is a common response following exercise, some pains may be red flags indicating an injury that may require medical attention.
Is that pain post-exercise soreness or an injury?
Here are some tips:
- Tender feeling; achy and tight muscles (micro tears cause this)
- About 24-72 hours after exercise (Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness)
- Only pain in muscle bellies
- Sharp pain at rest or while in motion
- Pain during exercise or shortly after in muscles and or joints
- Impacts daily functions
- Occurs at any time, including rest and may worsen with certain movements
If your symptoms seem more consistent with post-exercise muscle soreness, then you may want to avoid training that area until that soreness subsides. You can avoid such training by focusing training on other areas, or take a general rest from training altogether. Ice and an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as Aleve or Advil may also help diminish soreness associated with inflammation. Sometimes gentle stretching may also help to relieve your complaints.
If your complaints don’t subside within five to seven days, it may be a good idea to consult a medical professional. Oftentimes a physical therapist may your best resource. Through performing a thorough physical examination, a physical therapist can usually diagnose the underlying cause of your complaint. As experts in body movement and function, a physical therapist may also be able to determine what in your training led to the injury and brought on your pain in the first place.