Have you ever given thought to the meaning behind the statement: No pain, no gain?
Many people can take this statement literally, and unfortunately, the end result could be injury. It is important that we listen to what our bodies tell us both during and after exercise. There is in fact "good pain" and "bad pain". The following information should help you to tell the difference.
Weight-bearing and cardiovascular activities stress the body. As a result of that stress, we enhance our strength and endurance. But this process is almost always at the cost of feeling some level of pain.
How do we know if the pain we are experiencing is normal, or if the pain is more serious and due to an injury?
What is good pain?
Good pain, believe it or not, does exist. The most common type of good pain is the burning muscle pain you experience while performing an activity. This burning sensation ends immediately after you stop the activity. The cause is a buildup of lactic acid, a natural byproduct of exertion that your muscles produce.
Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is another common pain. DOMS is a generalised ache that begins after your workout. The feeling may begin at a few hours after your workout or up to a couple of days later.
You most likely will experience DOMS when you begin a new exercise to which your body is unaccustomed, or if you have increased the intensity of your workouts.
Injury to muscle fibres and connective tissues, which you can see only under a microscope, occurs because of the stress of the exercise, which is the culprit of this generalised ache.
DOMS typically resolves within a few days. It should not impede your ability to perform normal daily activities or keep you from moving your limbs and joints.
Pain that you shouldn’t ignore
While there are instances when you can expect pain from exercise, “Bad pain” could indicate an injury. Continuing to exercise with an injury will not allow you to push through pain or reach your goals. It will only make things worse. You need to stop and seek a recovery plan.
What should we look out for?
Sharp pain that prevents you from moving a body part, decreases your range of motion, or prevents you from moving altogether.
Pain in an area that was previously injured or where you’ve had surgery.
Pain associated with deformity or swelling.
No pain relief after several days of rest and ice.
Constant pain or pain that is worsening.
Pain coupled with pressure and bruising.
Pain that is so intense that it causes nausea and/or vomiting.
Pain associated with fevers and chills.
In summary, if you develop pain after exercise you may need to decide if ‘good’ or ‘bad’ pain is the culprit! You may need to rest or decrease the activity that is causing the problem, ice the painful area, keep moving the extremity but not overly stress. If you can associate with the bad pain then you may require physiotherapy advice to determine the nature of your pain and give you tips on better ways to move as well as help you recover in a safe and efficient way.