People train for different reasons, but if there’s one thing that’s common among all of us, it’s that we all experience exercise-related pain on a regular basis.
In fact, some people even look forward to post-exercise pain. After all, the principle behind muscle hypertrophy is that in order to trigger muscle growth, we first need to create microtears in the muscle.
Muscles grow bigger and denser when the body repairs these microtears by filling the gaps with newer, stronger muscle tissues.
We literally and intentionally cause damage to our bodies in order to strengthen it.
However, there’s a real danger in downplaying pain, because this dissolves the fine line between the typical muscle soreness and a serious injury.
Distinguishing Exercise-Related Pain From An Injury
It’s important to distinguish one from the other because failing to do so could mean that a person with an injury will not be able to get proper treatment.
A person who is unable to tell the difference between an injury and muscle soreness is likely to cause more damage to the muscle by placing it under unnecessary stress during training when he should be getting treatment for it.
Beginners are especially prone to this.
What makes matters worse is that further damage to an injury will also lengthen the time it takes for the muscle to fully recover.
When Is Pain Normal?
Exercise-related pain should be expected anywhere between a few hours up to 48 hours after your training session.
Delayed onset muscle soreness is a common occurrence among fitness enthusiasts and is generally a sign that you’ve put your muscle under enough tension to cause the microtears that are necessary for muscle growth.
Affected muscles will feel stiff and achy and the pain would feel more like a persistent gentle pulse.
The pain will get worse as you try to move your limb, but not to a point where your range of motion will be hindered. You’ll still be able to move your limbs normally.
What Are The Signs Of An Injury?
As a general rule, if the pain occurs immediately during an exercise, there’s a high probability that there’s something wrong. Sharp, stinging pain is one of the telltales of an injury.
You should also try to check if you’re still able to move your affected limb. If the pain keeps you from being able to perform a simple function, or if you aren’t able to move your limb with a full range of motion, then you need to stop working out immediately and get treatment.
What Should You Do When You’re Injured?
When you get injured during training, you need to manage the affected area before swelling occurs.
Apply an ice pack over the affected muscle and don’t put any weight on that limb. Ice packs reduce muscle spasms, tissue bleeding, and they’re also going to help dampen the pain.
It’s also important to have your injury checked as soon as you can so that your doctor will be able to determine the correct treatment.
Depending on the severity of your injury, it could be treated with ample rest, massage therapy, and stretching (as is the case with pulled muscles) or you may need to work with professionals who know how to deal with physical pain.
If you choose to ignore an injury, you could end up worsening your condition and may even cause irreparable damage.
What Measures Should You Take To Prevent Injuries?
First and foremost, you need to learn to perfect a technique before attempting heavier weights.
Many injuries in the gym occur because of a poorly-executed exercise. Poor form places tension on sensitive parts of your body such as your spine and your joints. Remember that you’re trying to create tension in your muscles and nowhere else.
It’s also important to use the proper gear and equipment. Wrist supports and weight lifting belts are a must for those who lift heavy weights because they help you maintain proper form even under all that weight.
Rest is an aspect of fitness that most people tend to overlook. Getting enough rest is just as important as putting the work in.
You need to allow your body to recover before placing it under tension again. It’s also for this reason that you need to have a proper workout schedule. This allows you to focus on a particular muscle group while the other muscle groups recover.
Muscle soreness is a common byproduct of exercise, but we also need to be able to detect an injury. Knowing the difference can keep you from aggravating an injury.