Athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and beginners all know the saying, “No pain, no gain.” To some extent, this saying is true. Learn more about pain in the body after exercise.
Weight-bearing and cardiovascular activities stress the body. As a result of this stress, we improve our strength and endurance. By moving our physical boundaries, we optimize our athletic performance, but almost always at the expense of feeling a certain pain level.
And that leads to questions that are sometimes considered by weekend warriors, bodybuilders, and recreational athletes: Should I push myself through the pain? And is there anything called “good pain”?
A low level of soreness is acceptable, but you should never push through pain while exercising.
Good pain, believe it or not, exists. A feeling of soreness or discomfort is usually the result of mild inflammation or microcracks in muscles or tendons. Extensive exercise can also lead to the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles.
The muscle repairs these tears when you rest, which helps the muscles grow in size and strength and is the body’s natural response when muscles experience work.
You feel a pain that lasts for a few days. This type of soreness subsides after you rest. This type of good pain can occur when you start a new exercise or return to a routine you have not done in a while.
Delayed onset muscle soreness
A common form of exercise-induced muscle soreness can develop when you perform an unknown physical activity for an extended period without a gradual escalation, called delayed muscle soreness, or DOMS. It produces a few days after intense training.
No treatment has been shown to reduce the muscles’ sore and weak time. Ibuprofen or alternating hot and cold packs can help relieve the pain temporarily.
The good news is that the soreness usually goes away in a few days by itself. If you only experience low-level soreness, it’s probably okay to take an easier workout. Some physical activity can even help alleviate the ailments.
However, there is a very fine line between achieving results through building muscle and causing injury. If DOMS is a little more painful, it is best to avoid strenuous exercise until you are no longer sore.
What to do with persistent pain
Pain represents injury. It’s muscle strain. It occurs due to overconsumption or too much stress on a muscle or a tendon. It can result from repeated use or a single muscle or tendon overload episode. But robust, sharp, or persistent pain that develops while exercising is another matter.
Pain during physical activity signals that you are straining a muscle or tendon too much and should stop.
People used to say you have to suck it up or push through the pain. They mean you have to keep going to get results. It is essential to ensure that the pain and tightness you are experiencing is not associated with anything more serious.
Symptoms of possible structural damage that deserve consultation with a physician include:
- Sudden, sharp pain.
- Sharp pain prevents you from moving a body part, reduces your range of motion, or prevents you from moving altogether.
- Pain in an area that has previously been damaged or where you have had surgery.
- Pain associated with deformity or massive swelling.
- There is no pain relief after several days of rest, ice, or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs.
- Constant pain or pain that worsens in severity.
- Pain combined with pressure and bruising.
- Intense pain that causes nausea and/or vomiting.
- Pain associated with fever and chills.
- Pain that keeps you awake at night
Let it be
The cornerstone of treating muscle sores is rest, but it is also essential to move as much as possible. Applying ice and heat can help.
However, inflammation is the body’s way of healing injuries. So you may not want to stop that inflammation completely. If you need to ice often or take medication often, this may indicate an unacceptable type of soreness that a doctor should consider.
Suppose soreness or pain significantly affects your daily activities, causes noticeable weakness, persists for several weeks to a month, or continues when you rest or interrupt sleep. In that case, it is time to see a doctor.
Start low and go slow
Stretching after exercise and staying well hydrated can help you avoid muscle strain. The best way to avoid reaching the stage of unacceptable pain and prevent the onset of DOMS is to start gradually.
It means that you start with very low intensity and duration and slowly increase the time and effort to build endurance.
If your daily work and daily activities do not involve turning tires and grabbing large ropes, then this is probably not the way you should start with an exercise program.
The start-low-and-go-slow approach goes for cardiovascular training and weight training, and all types of exercise in between.
Recurrent pain associated with sports is often due to the wrong form or technique. If you can eliminate these errors early, you can retrain to avoid re-injury or chronic relapse. And make sure you always use the proper method for any exercise.