As the saying goes, “no pain, no gain.” But while some aches and pain from exercising can be attributed to muscles soreness—“good” pain, some might say—certain pains should not be ignored.
How do you know if the pain you are feeling is normal, or if it’s caused by a more serious injury?
“Good” pain is typically described as the burning felt while exercising or lifting weights. This burning sensation is caused by the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles during a workout. If the pain goes away when you stop exercising, it’s not something to be concerned about.
Post-workout pain, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), may make it more challenging to get around in the few days following a tough workout, but it’s also harmless. This type of pain typically occurs when your body is becoming accustomed to a new type of exercise or increased intensity. Delayed onset muscle soreness should go away in a day or two and should not hinder your regular activities or joint and limb movements. While you may feel sore when you move around, you should not be unable to move.
When to See Your Doctor
Not all pain associated with exercise warrants a visit to your doctor, but in some cases, pain may be a sign of something more serious. Here are some scenarios when it’s always best to see your physician:
- If you are exercising and hear an audible “pop” sound in your knee or another joint, you may have torn a ligament or another soft tissue in the joint.
- If you experience sharp pain in your back, this may be a sign of a back injury that requires medical attention.
- If you suffer a blow to the head, no matter how minor you may think it is, it’s best to get it checked out to ensure you do not have a concussion. Continuing to exercise with a concussion can be very dangerous.
- If you have persistent or worsening pain, experience decreased range of motion, feel sharp pains, notice swelling or bruising or have pain that is so intense it makes you nauseated, see your doctor.
Exercise-related injuries can often be prevented. Be sure to take time to allow your body to warm up before beginning intense exercise. When lifting weights or performing any exercise you are unfamiliar with, always check your form. A certified professional fitness trainer can teach you proper form to help you prevent injuries.
Take at least one day each week to allow your body to rest and recover from your workouts. Without rest, your body will be more prone to injury. Most importantly, listen to your body, and when in doubt, see your doctor.