Pain and soreness: when to keep pushing, and when to dial it back

Today’s blog post is on pain vs soreness, and being able to tell the difference. It’s a really important area of awareness so that we can tell the difference between when we’re at risk of injury, and when we’re just working hard within a range that we would expect from a workout. The aim is to be able to really sustain our practice, and be able to keep exercising as frequently as we like, and not have to take a break because of injury.

It’s really common to see people injure themselves when they’re getting back into an exercise routine, whether they’re pushing too hard too early, or ignoring the signs. So really we want to be able to tell the difference between soreness that’s OK and pain that might be a signal to look after ourselves. The difference is, soreness is something that may come up 24-48 hours after doing some exercise. The most common form is Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS. It can be a fatigued feeling, a burning feeling, but it’s really just a sign that the body has been working hard. It’s been challenged to improve based on the work that it’s done.

Whereas pain can tend to be more sharp, more intense, it can be in the joints rather than the muscles. It can come on quickly and not go away. It can affect parts like the shoulder, the low back, the hip, the knee and the ankle – areas that we don’t want to have pain. One of the things we want to do is to rate how strong the pain is. A 6 or more out of 10 is a signal that it’s probably not a good idea to push through. It’s a point to consider seeking a professional opinion, perhaps to see a specialist like a physiotherapist about whether there’s an issue. 6 or more out of 10 rating of pain is a higher risk of injury.

You may want to work with a coach who can start you from where you’re at, build things up based on the progress you make at every stage, and understand the amount of work and recovery that you’ll need. A coach can give you a set of eyes to help identify the risk of injury. I’ve done certifications through Rehab Trainer so that I can help my clients avoid the risk of injury. For the clients that have suffered injuries in the past, we can build things up and get them moving without increasing the risk of re-injuring, or having other injuries occur.

If you’d like some more information about what I do, send me an email using the contact details below, and let’s have a chat!