Exercise is an important part of maintaining both physical and mental wellbeing. Of course, if you’ve done any exercise before, you know there’s going to be at least some level of physical discomfort associated with it. With regard to this discomfort, it is very important for you to understand the difference between muscle soreness, which is likely related to your exercise, and pain, which is more likely to be indicative of an injury.
This is a conversation we routinely have with our clients who come in for physical therapy in Brampton, and it’s an issue that’s important for the general public to understand as well. Let’s take a closer look.
Muscle soreness usually occurs within one to three days (24 to 72 hours) after your physical activity. This is completely normal—it’s a result of small damage done to your muscle fibers. Don’t be too alarmed by the word “damage,” as it is completely safe. These microscopic tears in your muscles heal up and strengthen the muscles over time, so long as you continue exercising in a safe and responsible manner.
While you experience what’s frequently referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), your muscles could be tender to the touch, or have feelings of tightness or achiness. Movement may feel uncomfortable at first, but you’ll find moving and stretching your muscles gently can decrease the soreness and tightness. You may need to perform some alternative exercises during those periods of soreness, focusing on other muscle groups to allow those muscles to recover.
As soreness improves with stretching and movement, it will worsen with sitting still. After appropriate rest and recovery, it will help you to get up and moving again with a different activity. Your muscles should no longer be sore after two or three days.
You may feel pain either during or after your exercise. Compare this to soreness, which only sets in after exercise. The pain may have a much sharper sensation, rather than the dullness of muscle soreness. This pain can linger without going away even after you’ve rested. Pushing through your injury will likely only worsen the pain you experience. If, after a week to 10 days, you are still feeling pain and don’t believe it’s getting better, it’s important to see a medical professional.
If you’ve suffered an injury and are experiencing pain, you can improve it with rest, ice and some more movement, unless you’ve had a serious injury. Compression for some types of injuries may also help. If you have suffered an injury, a doctor will be able to provide you with more specific recovery methods for your particular condition. But again, you can expect that pain to linger if not addressed.
For more information about the differences between soreness and pain and the steps you should take to address the discomfort you feel after your exercise, contact Paramount Physiotherapy & Sports Injuries Clinic today and we will be happy to answer any questions you have about physical therapy in Brampton.