Differentiating Soreness from an Injury

It is common to feel sore after a workout, especially if the exercise is new to you. However, there is a difference between an ache and an injury. Factors such as weight, age, strength, etc. all impact your threshold for physical activity.

Soreness vs. an Injured Muscle
Soreness from exercise usually results from working out muscles you don’t normally use and typically resolves quickly. Sometimes that soreness is delayed, and you experience what is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Muscle soreness, even if it’s delayed, should go away on its own within a few days.

Occasionally it can be difficult to tell the difference between soreness and an injured muscle. Typically, with an injured muscle you will immediately feel pain. Pulled muscles usually result in a localized area with intense pain. Swelling and bruising may occur which may be indicative of a more significant injury.

What to do for Muscle Soreness
“Stay active until the muscle soreness goes away. Soreness improves with light movement and stretching. If you completely stop moving it can increase soreness. You are also going to want to vary your activities. Work your arms, legs, and whole body on different days to help you strengthen other muscles while allowing the sore ones to rest,” says Dr. Jason Smith, DO

What to Do if You Have an Injury
“If you think you have an injury immediately stop your activity and start icing the area. Ice can provide short-term relief for pain; it is best to avoid heat. Don’t push through the pain because it can make the problem worse and lead to further injury. Lastly, seek help from a health care provider” says Dr. Smith.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith, visit mercy.com.