No pain no gain right? Except, wrong. You’ve just smashed an epic workout (hello all 5 levels on and you feel proud of the pain you’re feeling after, like an invisible badge of honour. Struggling to take the stairs and sitting down is an achy reminder of all of that hard work you’ve done. Except, not all pain is good pain.

If we were to stop getting our shine on at the first sign of discomfort, we would probably never do anything at all. It’s about listening to your body, learning when to keep going and when to rest. Pain is your body’s way of letting you know that something isn’t quite gravy and while it is true that a little soreness after exercise is a good thing as it means your muscles are getting stronger, there is a difference between normal soreness and injury related pain. The real trick is being able to tell the difference. 

Good pain

You’ve had a really successful workout session, maybe even pushed a new PB. You go to bed and wake up and all of a sudden you have lost the use of your legs? Welcome to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), generally peaking around 24 – 48 hours after exercising. DOMS generally comes to play when you’re trying out a new exercise program (like hint hint) or increasing your intensity or volume and you have all kinds of lactic acid build ups happening. What’s really happening is that your muscles are getting primed and ready to do that activity again, so the next time you squat like it’s going out of fashion, you will have been building up your strength and next time won’t be so sore.

Bad pain

I repeat, the no pain no gain rule is a terrible rule to follow. If you’re finding you have sharp and localised pain, this is a possible sign of an injury. Sometimes injury related pain happens when a muscle is overused, generally compensation for another area of the body. If there is still pain apparent after 48 hours, it’s off to the doc with you. Better to be safe than sorry! 

It is not true that we have to hurt to get a good workout, so keep an eye out for these things while you get your shine on:

Sudden, sharp, radiating or increasing pain

A general growing ache in your muscles is a sign that your workout sesh is a challenge, but be aware of intense pains that appear quickly. Any pain that gets progressively worse and more intense is bad news. Don’t try and push through the movement as this can cause further issues. Take a break and go and get it checked out. I have made sure there are enough things on TIFFXO to exercise the brain as much as the body so you’re never going to miss out on feeling good.

Pulled muscles

If you feel a sudden tightening during a workout, you may have pulled a muscle. This could be a sign that you’re overdoing it or you need to look at your form. Take a break from that move until your muscles recover. If it bothers you when you move gently or the pain lasts for more than 2 weeks, off to the doc with you.  

Achy joints

If you find you’re in the middle of your Tone session and all of a sudden you feel a new pain in your back, it’s definitely time to stop. Soreness and joint aches can be a warning sign that your muscles aren’t absorbing the force of your movements and the supporting soft tissues are absorbing too much. Slow it down, stretch it out and try something a little less intense.

Make sure you are paying close attention to your form. If you’re finding your lower back is sore after sit ups, it’s a case of looking at your form rather than your intensity or program. If you’re pushing yourself and getting tired, you won’t be holding proper form and that can also lead to muscle strains or tears. At the end of the day, it’s about listening to your body’s needs.

If you’re finding you’re still in pain 72 to 96 hours after a workout, I’m sorry to tell you but this is not a case of the DOMS. It’s time to see a doc to make sure you haven’t done any long lasting damage. A good way to tell the difference between soreness and injury is that if you’re injured, you’re more likely to feel it immediately during your workout (and never ignore these pains) and soreness generally appears the next day or two.  

There are a few things we can do to help ease your muscle pain. 

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