After a good workout, your muscles hurt.  Usually, that means you’re doing it right, but sometimes it can be a sign that something has gone wrong.  The question is, how do you differentiate between general soreness (which is both common and a good thing after a workout) and actual pain?

This article will help make that clear.

In order to improve your body, you have to push its limits.  When you do that, muscle soreness is one of the short-term results.  Fortunately, this mild burning sensation passes within a day or two and can be alleviated via things as simple as resting, stretching before and after your workout, and then more activity.

The more you work your body, the more efficient it gets and the further back your soreness threshold moves.

Unfortunately, if you overdo it, you’ll find yourself experiencing more than simple soreness.  Pain tends to run deeper.  While soreness is confined to your muscles themselves, pain seeps into your joints too.  While soreness will subside with additional activity, such activity will only make pain worse.

Further, soreness tends to be relatively short lived.  In two or three days, even after a strenuous workout, the soreness subsides.  Pain won’t.  It won’t go away until whatever underlying issue is causing the pain has been addressed.

If you give it enough time, those underlying issues will usually (but not always) go away on their own.  Even so, most people lack the time or patience for that.  If you’re experiencing an unpleasant sensation and you’re not sure whether it’s simple soreness or serious pain, and if it hasn’t subsided in a couple days, play it safe.  Pay a visit to your doctor or your chiropractor and get it checked out.  It’s always better to err on the side of caution.

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