Written by: Dennis Meszler, PT, MPT, SCS at the Raleigh Orthopaedic Performance Center in Cary
When you’ve finally made up your mind to commit to those exercise goals you’ve had in mind the last thing you want to deal with is pain slowing you down. Starting to create good health and workout habits makes us feel empowered and energized to keep things moving in the right direction. Therefore, if pain from our workouts starts to creep into our daily life many will disregard it as much as possible and continue the activities that have given us the results we have been looking for. The classic phrase “no pain , no gain” pops out and we rationalize a reason to continue. But is that phrase true?
There isn’t an easy answer. It depends on many factors but maybe the most important is our ability to heal before the next workout. If soreness/pain is still around when you try to push the body again it can easily start a downward spiral that ends up with you unable to continue working out even if you have the will to.
Left over soreness/pain can alter the way we move. The human body is a really good cheater. If our body senses pain it will alter the sequencing of muscle activation and/or ranges of motion that our joints go through to try to avoid the pain. Altered movement patterns are almost guaranteed to be less efficient and can lead to either an increase in the pain you already have or a whole new pain altogether.
So how do you decide if the pain is ok to work through? Here are a few caution signs to look for:
- soreness in a joint rather than a muscle
- pin-point soreness on a bone or in a muscle (muscle pain should be diffuse not focal)
- soreness that alters the way you move
- swelling in a joint following a workout
- soreness that you can’t eliminate by warming up
Hopefully adding in some more recovery time will help eliminate any of these issues. If they don’t go away or you need more guidance in evaluating and working through what is going on reach out to the sports medicine team at Raleigh Orthopaedic Performance Center for help.
About Dennis Meszler, PT, MPT, SCS:
Dennis Meszler is a Sports Physical Therapist at the Raleigh Orthopaedic Performance Center in Cary. He earned a Masters Degree in Physical Therapy. Dennis has 19 years of Physical Therapy experience in orthopedic settings. The last 6 years have been in a Sports Performance setting aimed at returning and maximizing athletic potential.