How to know if you’re just sore or actually injured?
Our muscles get sore because we work them really hard, and we get tiny tears (or micro tears, like a micro pig wearing a tiny raincoat and booties, only not as cute) in our muscles that need to repair themselves. That soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and it’s mostly cause by the eccentric/lowering/negative part of an exercise (intensity and duration are also important factors).
This is a good thing! It means you’re overloading your muscles, and they’re in the process of growing to accommodate the heavier loads you’re carrying. “No pain, no gain” looks a lot cleaner on an Instagram post (#fitnessgoals) than “no delayed onset muscle soreness, no muscle growth” tho, so…
Soreness is more common when starting a new workout routine or returning to regular workouts after a long break.
But what if that soreness isn’t soreness at all… what if you’re injured, injured bad? How would you tell the difference?
Here’s what good, healthy soreness looks like:
Soreness should feel like muscle weakness, stiffness, sensitivity to touch/playful tickling – a tight, achy feeling. Good soreness should run up on ya 12-24 hours after the good stuff, peak between 24-72 hours post bro-sesh, and ghost on you within 3-5 days.
If, over time, you do the same kinds of workouts at the same intensity levels, your body will get used to the stress and you’ll feel sore less often. If you want that good sore feeling back in your life, step your game up! Micro pigs only happen if you push your muscles beyond what’s comfortable.
“What can I do to feel less sore?”
Not a lot. Resting is your best bet. Natural anti-inflammatories may help – ginger, turmeric, cherry juice. Over the counter pain meds might not actually do much. Cryotherapy, stretching, and homeopathic remedies also may not help much either. Cold water baths and hot and cold showers could help speed recovery – may not help with the pain, though. Try not to mask regular soreness if you can – this way, you’ll be more aware of your body and the kinds of exercises that make you sore.
“What if I’m more than sore?”
Great question. Listen to your body, factorians. Here are a few signs that your soreness may be something more:
- Less dull and achy, more of a sharp pain
- Pain that lasts more than a few days
- Paint that restricts motion, or prevents you from doing things the way you normally do things
If these sound familiar to you, or if routine soreness never goes away, it might be a good time to see a professional.
“Great, I think I’m injured. MY FITNESS CAREER IS OVER.”
Not so fast – injury rarely means “stop all physical activity.” For people who are super active, it’s not terribly realistic to expect them to cease and desist all forms of exercise. What’s more likely is that you’d want to find safe exercises or modifications to do instead of things that will make an injury worse.
If you’re feeling rough, or know you’ve got a specific injury and aren’t sure if a particular exercise at the Factory will make it worse, ask a trainer for a modification or replacement exercise. Or, when in doubt, just rock your hips to the beat of whatever jam we’ve got pumping.
Other options – stay active with other forms of exercise like walking, yoga, or swimming. Soreness can be painful, but it’s normal. Injuries are frustrating, but they happen. Take care of your body – no need to be a hero and power through a workout on an injured body. We’ll be here when you’re good and healthy again.