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Good and bad pain - what's the difference?

No pain no gain right?

When you’re trying to get in shape, starting a new exercise routine, or taking your fitness to the next level, there are going to be challenges. And yes, you know it - a certain level of discomfort! Some days after intense workouts, just getting up those stairs is going to be an ordeal!

While the phrase “no pain, no gain” definitely has some truth, there is a fine line between “good pain” (ie something you should push past to achieve your goals) and “bad pain” (ie something you should listen to as a sign of over doing it).

A good pain is what we call DOMS - delayed onset muscle soreness. This happens when you’ve pushed a muscle to do something it’s not used to; something new or increased exertion. Within one to two days, you’ll begin to feel soreness in the area. It may be tender to touch. Often day 2 of DOMS is the worst. But the soreness goes away quickly after that.

The pain comes from micro trauma in the muscle caused by vigorous exercise - sounds bad, but it’s not. A muscle gets stronger and builds denser tissue when it has a reason to remodel itself. When it senses the tiny trauma, the muscle repairs tissue to allow for more endurance.

What is bad pain? Bad pain is 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 allow recovery, and where necessary, treatment. What are key indicators to determine whether you’re crossing over into bad pain? Good pain makes you tired but you keep going, sacrificing your form just to continue the exercise. Bad form leads to bad pain.

The pain comes on suddenly (those could be a pop or crack). The pain is in your joints (ie Your knee). You should never have joint pain after working out because there is no “good joint pain.” The pain isn’t equal on both sides (ie. Does one shoulder hurt while the other is fine?). The pain is pinpointed in one area, as opposed to more general and spread out (i.E. Are you experience pain in your calf muscle, just above your heel?). At the end of the day - you know your own body. Listen to it. Pay attention to how you feel before, during and after exercise (for at least one to two days). If you’re not sure whether the pain you’re experiencing is good pain or bad pain, or if you’re suffering from an injury and need help with recovery, speak to one of our highly experienced therapists we have on site.

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