If you live under the mantra of ‘no pain, no gain’ then you probably welcome the feeling of post-workout pain and soreness. To you, it’s just a sign that you worked hard and are going to start seeing results soon. If anything, you feel a little worried when your workouts don’t leave you sore the next day.

Saying this, does it mean that all post-workout pain is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern? No, there are many other reasons you could consistently be in pain after exercise, and they’re not great at all. Your pain could be the sign of a long-lasting condition that may get worse and worse the longer you leave it. In the long run, it could end up being bad for your health if you keep working out through the pain, rather than having a break and getting it sorted.

This begs the question; how do you know when pain is bad pain or good pain? When is it just normal muscle soreness or something more sinister? Luckily, there are some things you can look out for that determine when your pain is probably more than post-workout soreness.

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Does The Pain Last For More Than 3 Days Max?

Post-workout muscle soreness is normal and common, but it should only last a day or two after working out. Yes, it can last a day longer if you’ve not exercised for a long time and then had a really heavy session. However, the soreness and pain should gradually get better and better each day. If it stays the same, for a good week or so, then the alarm bells should ring.

Pain after a workout that lasts longer than a few days indicates a more serious issue. You might have pulled a muscle or strained it slightly. The pain keeps happening because you don’t give it long enough to rest and recover properly. So, by the time your next workout comes around, you’re just damaging the muscle even more. It’ll get to the point where a full-on tear happens, and you’re out for months.

Do You Feel Pain In Any Joints?

Generally speaking, you shouldn’t feel joint pain when working out. If you constantly have pain in your hips, shoulders, elbows, ankles, or knees, then it’s not a good sign. Most likely, you have a long-standing joint issue that flares up when you bear weight and put it under extreme stress. It’s highly possible you had this problem for years – maybe even since childhood – but only noticed it after your exercise routine got more intense.

Joint pain is a major cause for concern as it’s strongly linked to arthritis. You may think this is something only old people suffer from, but young adults get it too. The cause can be genetic, but it can also stem from a previous problem you had as a child and didn’t solve. There are loads of kids these days born with degenerative hip joints and other joint issues. If you had pain in your groin as a child, then you may well have had this issue. When left untreated, it leads to arthritis. The same applies to any other joints too. Think back to your younger years and whether you were always in a bit of pain. If so, this may show you had an issue, didn’t look after it, and are now suffering the consequences.

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Are You In Pain During Exercise?

This is probably the biggest indication that something really isn’t right with your body. While pain and soreness after exercising can be normal, pain during it is not. So, if you feel pain anywhere in your body while exercising, and the soreness continues afterwards and the next few days, then you know there’s a bigger issue at hand.

The thing is, if you exercise properly, you shouldn’t feel any pain during whatever it is you’re doing. Whether it’s lifting weights, running, cycling, dancing – whatever – you should be pain-free. Pain while exercising is basically your body trying to get your attention and telling you ‘hey listen, buddy, we’re gonna be in a lot of trouble if you keep going on, I can’t take much more of this!’. The best thing to do – for the sake of your health more than anything – is to stop exercising if you feel pain.

Do You Get Pain In One Place But Nowhere Else?

Let me ask you this; when you exercise, are you left with pain in one part of your body every time, but nowhere else? If so, then there may be more to it than simple muscle soreness. If you go for a long run, and the next day you wake up with soreness in one hamstring but not the other, then this tells you something. It tells you that particular muscle is weak, and you’re on the verge of an injury.

Muscle soreness shouldn’t be confined to one particular muscle after a workout. If you’ve been squatting, then both legs should be sore, as should your bum. But, if the same place keeps flaring up with pain after your workouts all the time, then you should probably look into doing something about it.

If you’ve sat through this article and answered yes to every question, then I’m sorry to say your pain isn’t just muscle soreness. It’s more than likely an injury of some kind, and you should find a health professional to help you out. You’ve got loads of options here, from chiropractors to osteopaths, there’s always a solution for you.

I do want to make a point of saying that you can exercise and be sore or in pain afterwards, and there might be nothing wrong with you. As long as the pain isn’t too extreme, doesn’t occur during exercise, doesn’t affect your joints, and goes gradually over three days. That’s when you know it’s fine and you’re in good health! Muscle soreness is expected and normal, but refer back to the original questions if you’re ever worried it’s something more serious than that.


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