What is the difference between being sore and Injured?

Stiff muscles and Aches are Normal

Have you ever finished at the gym and not felt good?  You ate your post workout meal but you are abnormally sore; your muscles are still in a bit of pain. You have been sore, but this is different; you just aren’t recovering as quickly as you think you should, Do you need to keep your muscles rested, iced, or compressed to help them heal or can you chalk this pain up to classic post gym soreness? Are you sore or injured? Hopefully the information I have provided below can help you tell the difference so that you know how to best recover. 

If your soreness feels subtly achy or tight and stiff then chances are your muscles are just taking a bit longer to recover from your gym session than usual. The unusual feelings could arise from working out different groups of muscles than you are used to or you added a bit more weight than usual; there are many reason for recovery delay. 

This is good news.  You also don't have to skip the gym, you can still workout.  I get asked this question a lot. I am still sore, should I still workout?  Yes.  it’s best to allow your body the time it needs to repair those torn muscles with a few days of light exercises. NOTE: Remember that on days that you aren’t pushing yourself as hard at the gym you also won’t need to consume as many calories as usual, so your diet may need to be adjusted for a few days until you can get back to full force.

Sharp Pains

While a dull aching soreness is generally pretty innocent an intense, sharp or stabbing pain is cause for concern. This type of pain is a great indication that there is a serious problem with your muscles that needs to be taken care of sooner rather than later to avoid further injury or a prolonged recovery time. Swelling is another red flag; pains in a single area rather than an entire group of muscles.  It’s time to head to the doctor and have yourself checked out by a professional before you head back to the gym. If you are diagnosed with an injury be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about how best to help your body through the recovery process. A very good personal trainer can help you stretch and rehab it just as well as a physical therapist.  And also a good trainer wouldn't have placed you in a position for injury; always be cautious of what you are attempting.  Don't try to bring the ego to the workout; if you are working with a buddy or a group, do what you can and enjoy the exercises. 

Show Caution to Lingering Symptoms

If your pain or soreness lingers for more than a few days there is a good possibility that what you are dealing with in an injury and not just muscle soreness. You may not even feel the moment that you tweak, pop or pull a muscle causing the injury. In fact it could be hours until you start to feel the pain. When you start to feel pain your first course of action should be to determine whether the pain is more of a dull ache or a sharp stabbing. As we discussed above a dull pain is generally an innocent sore muscle where as a sharp pain is more cause for concern. 

How Long Will Soreness Stay Around?

Within the first twenty four to forty eight hours of any physical activity is when most people can expect to experience the peak of their soreness. After which innocent muscle soreness will begin to ease up and generally begin to feel better. It is important to stay well hydrated and continue to fuel your body with balanced nutrients during the first three days of discomfort to ensure that your muscles have everything they need to heal themselves. If at the end of three days your soreness still exists but has eased from its initial level of intensity there is a good chance you haven’t done enough damage to your muscles to concern yourself with seeing a doctor. Respect the intensity level, any even curve the intensity level for a few days until your body feels up to full strength again.