Mere soreness vs injury

6 min read
21 Jun 2017
6 min read
569 words
From the archive (Oct, 2016): There are some types of muscle sorenesses that should ring off alarm bells

You're probably heard that the best feeling you can have after a workout is that of being sore. For many of us, the soreness, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), proves that our extra efforts have paid off. Yes, we wear that soreness with pride. It is something that is completely normal and no one is immune to the feeling, as everyone—from beginners to advanced bodybuilders—experiences them. However, there are some types of muscle soreness that should ring off alarm bells, and that you ought to look out for. So what are the tell-tale signs that can help you identify what could actually be something as bad as a muscle tear or other forms of injuries?

Time period

Usually, soreness is something that you feel gradually and not immediately after your workout. Most soreness is felt the next day, and if you feel it as soon as you are done with your workout, it is most likely an injury. Apart from that, it is normal for that burn to last anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, and so if you can still feel it significantly after 72 hours, then you should consult a doctor.

One-sided pain

‘Good’ muscle soreness typically affects both sides of the body. This means that if you are feeling the ache in your arms or legs, then the pain should be felt mutually on both. However, if you are feeling the pain on just one side, then it could be a warning sign that your soreness is more than just that. Do note that this is an exception for certain parts like the hand or hamstrings.

Can you pinpoint it?

Experts state that muscle soreness is something that is dull and one that you feel over a large surface area. For instance, if you feel sore, then you will most probably point it out by using your palm. On the other hand, if you can actually point to the pain at a specific area with, say, your finger, then that could actually be indicative of an injury.

More pain as you continue?

You know how as fitness buffs we decide to work amidst the soreness and continue working out the next day as well? Now, when you do that and you can feel the initial pain subsiding, then that is just muscle soreness. Feel more pain as you work out? That is a sign of injury, since such pain increases with muscle usage.

It is important to note that although DOMS is common, one should not take it lightly. After all, overlooking this can lead to various problems such as bone irritation and subsequent swelling, cartilage irritation and stress fracture. There are certain workout habits that you can adopt to prevent unnecessary DOMS, such as the following:

  • Taking it slow: You might want to ‘up’ your exercise game but always, always consider your fitness level and ability before pushing yourself.
  • Warm-up and cool-down: Plan out a proper warm-up and cool-down regime and dedicate some time to them.
  • Proper form: Always ask your trainer for the proper and correct forms of doing certain exercises that you are unfamiliar with.

Trust me, they will be more than happy to help!