Good Pain and Bad Pain: What’s the Difference?
Your alarm goes off in the morning. You roll out of bed, walk on jelly-like legs, and reach for the coffee pot with arms heavy as lead. Twisting to look at the clock, your abs greet you good morning. With satisfaction, you think “Wow, I got a great workout yesterday!” The pain you’re feeling is completely normal, and a body’s healthy response to exercise. But what happens when you wake up and something doesn’t feel right? How do you know what is good pain and what is bad pain?
This kind of satisfactory “good pain” is muscle soreness. When we work out, we strain our muscles, causing microscopic tears in the fibers. The process our body goes through to repair those fibers causes inflammation, which results in soreness. Because this is most commonly felt 12-24 hours after a workout (but can be most painful 24-72 hours after), it is known as delayed onset muscle soreness. This kind of pain is localized to the area we worked out, and feels more like a dull ache as opposed to the sharp and specific pain of a pin prick.
When our bodies are in this recovery state, it is especially important to take good care of ourselves. If we jump right back into an intense workout, we risk compromising form and may injure ourselves. It is not necessary to stay off sore muscles completely, but it is recommended to alternate intense workout days with lighter ones.
Tips to Help Prevent Soreness
- Stay Hydrated- Try to drink half your weight in ounces of water daily. For example, if you weigh 140lbs, you need to drink 70oz of water a day.
- Stretch- Stretching can reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness. Next time you’re in class at OnPointe, ask your instructor for stretches you can do at home!
- Protein- As soon as you are done working out, your body needs protein ASAP to repair the damaged muscle fibers. Check out our delicious OnPointe Power Smoothie (Insert Link)!
- Roll it Out- Grab your foam roller! Roll for 30 seconds on one muscle group. If you find a trigger point (or a little knot), stay on that spot and it will gently loosen. Make sure to keep breathing through the pain!
- Epsom Salt- This was my saving grace when I was dancing. Pour ½ cup into your bath and sit, soak, and relax. If you don’t have a bathtub, soak a washcloth in warm water and Epson salt and lay onto your sore muscles.
Try out our suggestions and let us know what helps your body feel great! As always, we want to help you build yourself. OnPointe.
It is important to know the difference between muscle soreness and acute pain that could indicate injury. If you feel a sharp pain that doesn’t subside 72 hours after exercise, consult a doctor.
Jamtvedt, G; Herbart, R; Flottorp, S; Odgaard-Jensen, J; Haveisrud, K; Barratt, A; Nathieu, E; Buris, A: Oxman, D. A pragmatic randomized trial of stretching before and after physical activity to prevent injury soreness. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2010, 44 (14) 1009-9
American College of Sports Medicine online
Author: Kaitlyn Rhoades