Soreness vs Injury – How to Diagnose Your Pain

Soreness vs Injury – How to Diagnose Your Pain

Exercising is highly beneficial to our bodies, and if you are new to it you have plenty to learn yet. At the beginning, you will feel hyped about the new lifestyle and you will end up with sore muscles at the end of the day. It occurs because you put pressure on your body, but this pressure can sometimes result in muscle injuries. Soreness vs Injury. That is why it is essential to learn the difference between the two.  That will help you to know to apply the right treatment.

Muscle Soreness

When you start exercising or try new types of exercises for the first time, you are pushing your muscles and applying pressure. After the workout is done, you will experience something that is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It is called that because your muscles feel sore 24 to 72 hours post workout. The discomfort you will feel shouldn’t alarm you; if your muscles are tender, tired, burning, minimally dull or tight, it is clear that they are just sore and not injured.

Another thing that signals soreness is the duration of such feelings in the muscles which, on average, lasts 2 to 3 days. You might experience greater pain when you are sitting still. This happens because the muscles cool down. And when you activate them again, they struggle. But the pain goes away when you start moving.

After Workout

Even though it may hurt to bend over and pick up something, muscle soreness is completely normal after any type of workout. It is essential to treat it right as soon as it appears. Light every day stretching and moving your muscles will help them reactivate and relieve the stress and pain. Also, it is essential to stay hydrated and get rested.

Soreness vs Injury - Every day streching.
Soreness vs Injury – Every day stretching.

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Injuries, on the other hand, have different symptoms than DOMS. As mentioned, it will take you a day or two to feel DOMS, but when it comes to injuries, the pain shows right away. However, in some cases, it might take the pain up to 24 hours to kick in after the physical activity. The type of discomfort is also different because with an injury you will feel an ache or sharp pain while resting or exercising. Since the injury is probably caused by exercise, you might feel a sudden ache or a snap that can indicate that something is wrong. Another indicator of an injury is the increase of pain while you are repeating a certain activity or movement. If the pain doesn’t stop after a few days, it is clear that your muscles aren’t sore.


DOMS might pass by itself, but when it comes to injured muscles or joints, you need to treat them right. What usually helps with minor injuries are packs of ice on the injured area and plenty of rest. Additionally, you should increase your protein intake. Protein helps your muscles recover from any type of injury and soreness easier since they encourage muscle tissue to regenerate. So, make sure to load up on protein shakes, meat, and you can even try adding some protein supplements to your nutrition.

Soreness vs Injury - Increase your protein intake.
Soreness vs Injury – Increase your protein intake.

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Also, you can wrap the injured area with an elastic compression bandage and keep the injured part in an elevated position. After the swelling is gone and you feel that the muscle can start working again, you should slowly get back to your daily workout. Do it with some easy and light exercises and plenty of stretching.

Muscle aches after exercising are not something you should be afraid of. In most cases, it’s just a soreness that will pass in no time. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful and know the limits of your muscles. Either way, it is important to learn the difference between soreness and injury. So you can know what to do next and how to help yourself recover faster.


This article is written by Mathews McGarry


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