It’s all well and good to want to work out and have a gorgeous and fit body, but what about the morning after that very first work out and you wake up feeling like you just got hit by a truck? Not fun, and it makes you simply want to stay in bed with a hot pack attached to all parts of you. The thing to remember with pain is that old expression we were taught: no pain, no gain. Pain is part of the workout process and there are some moments when it’s a good kind of pain, and others where it’s a warning sign. This will help you on your way to understanding all there is to know about workout pain and what to do about it.
Where Workout Pain Comes From
Simply put, workout pain comes from, well, working out. Your muscles are new to stretching, so they’re going to get what’s called a micro-tear. These micro-tears are exactly what they sound like: small tears in the muscle fibers (see below) from stretching and strengthening. As you get stronger and more adjusted to working out, your muscles will become stronger, and these tears will be less likely to happen. This is why workouts get easier over time. For more detailed information on what happens when a muscle tears, read the article: What is a Muscle Strain or Tear?
What To Do To Alleviate Pain
To help you over the first few hurdles of pain, here are some great tips that will keep you on track with your plan and making the most out of it.
- Work out: Yes, seriously. A workout is one of the best ways to get rid of muscle pain because blood circulation is going to alleviate that pain, and blood circulation comes from exercising. It can be a gentle workout (gentle being the keyword, here), or you can switch to something low impact and easy such as yoga. The point is to make sure that you focus on keeping yourself moving. Even a meander around the block will help and make the difference to the soreness.
- Stretch before and after the exercise: Because you’ll be anticipating the pain, you can do a few things to help before it happens. Firstly, gently stretch your muscles to warm them up. It’s important not to overdo it, as this can lead to more harm. Gently stretch out all muscles (even those you don’t think you’re going to use) and then do the same thing after the workout. This will help those muscles get the blood circulation that you need to keep yourself in good shape for the next workout.
- Alternate between workout routines: Sometimes it’s as simple as alternating between two or three workout routines so that you can make sure that you aren’t over-exercising a certain muscle group. This is a good habit to get into, anyway, as doing the same exercise over and over again will lead to plateaus in muscle growth.
- Use heat/cold packs (sparingly): While heat or cold packs should be used sparingly, they can offer comfort to the affected muscle by either heating up the muscle and promoting blood circulation, or reducing swelling and taking the pressure off, respectively.
- Eat healthy: Your body needs reliable fuel in order to make sure that it’s staying comfortable, pain-free, and well-oiled. Taking care of your body will help it take care of you in terms of pain and soreness.
Good Pain vs. Bad Pain
The thing to remember with pain, is that there is a good pain (muscle soreness) and there is also a bad pain (tendon pains or over-extending stress or pain, or stress fractures). Knowing one from the other is important, as well as what to do about it.
- Good pain: Good pain is the kind that we’ve already talked about, muscle soreness (mild to severe) that makes certain movement harder than they should be, and lasts for a couple of days. This is annoying pain, but considered to be good pain. Your body will be able to heal these mild tears on their own and it will make you stronger for it. Even though it’s, well, painful, this is the kind of pain that you can work through. It’s healthy, natural, and it’s going to happen every time you start a new kind of exercise or you get back into it after being inactive for an extended period of time.
- Bad pain: In comparison, bad pain that is sharp or persistent is another matter. This kind of bad pain will usually come during the exercise instead of after it, and the simple matter is that you’re going to know it when you feel it. This is a sign of over-extension or damage to tendons or joints, etc. When you feel this kind of pain that steadily gets worse, or stays present, you need to stop what you’re doing and wait it out. This is a kind of pain that will get worse if you keep working out, so you need to listen to your body, rest up, and be careful. Gentle stretches will help with these kinds of pain because stretching can prevent them from happening in the first place, but it can also help you recover after the fact. Don’t ignore sharp pains ever during or after a workout. Take it seriously and be careful in how fast you go back into your workout.
There are a lot of perks to working out, one of which being your health benefits. You want to make sure that you can keep yourself feeling the best possible, and using your body to get there is a great way to achieve it. Understand and follow the differences between good pain and bad pain, remembering that both can have serious health impacts. Pain can be good, but it can also be bad. Knowing the difference between the two will increase your chance to higher overall health level. This will help you on your way to knowing when it is okay to work through the pain, and when it’s not.
Before you go, we’d also like to point out that we’re not doctors here at SimplyJnJ. Our goal is to provide valuable information (nutrition, health & fitness, etc.) and products to help you on your road to recovery. However, nothing beats the care and guidance of a good and qualified medical practitioner. Please make sure you consult one before following anyone’s medical and/or health advice.