Pain vs. Soreness | How to Tell The Difference

Pain vs. Soreness | How to Tell The Difference

Pain vs. Soreness | Have you ever felt pain after an intense or new workout and wondered if you injured yourself, or if it’s just delayed muscle soreness from the workout? You may be thinking “No pain, no gain.” However, this old-school train of thought does not always fit in with the physical medicine world. There is a difference between muscle pain, and muscle soreness. This article will cover the two and how to tell the difference.

How to tell the difference

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between muscle pain and soreness is to pinpoint when the discomfort started. Did the discomfort slowly start following a particular movement? Typically with soreness, discomfort can start following the repetitive motion. However, this discomfort usually lasts for a short period and goes away. An intense strength training session can cause muscle soreness, which may last for a couple of days. If the discomfort lasts longer than a short period of time (5-10 seconds) the discomfort is often referred to as Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness. You may have heard this term referred to as DOMS. The tight and achy feeling that you get from DOMS typically dissipates after 24-48 hours. Injuries or pain are not associated with DOMS, as the discomfort is merely a side effect of your intense training. Your muscles should feel great within 24-48 hours.

Symptoms of soreness:

  • Temporary

  • Slow onset

  • Burning feeling in muscles

  • Muscle tightness

Pain on the other hand is a completely different ball game. Pain is a signal to your body that something is not right or you should stop doing a particular movement. Pain typically comes on very quickly and is characterized by a sharp, persistent, annoying feeling. Pain usually lasts longer than a couple of days without any improvement. An important thing to remember about pain is that it does not automatically mean there is an injury. It can simply be your body’s way of telling you that you need to slow down. Pain is an actual signal that is sent to your brain as a warning. It is programmed in your body for a reason. Therefore, if you feel pain, do not ignore the signals. It is a layer of protection for your body.

Symptoms of pain:

  • Quick onset

  • Sharp feeling

  • Aching

  • Persistent

  • Does not go away after a couple of days

  • No improvement in discomfort

If you are concerned about muscle pain and soreness, consider a consult with a chiropractic doctor Shawnee, KS who can help create a healing treatment plan for you. Certain exercises and stretches can be designed to help relieve some of your muscle discomfort. A specific exercise regimen can also be prescribed based on your needs. Chiropractors are trained in providing treatment plans to help manage pain and heal injuries in a holistic manner.

Thanks to LifeWorks for their insights on pain vs. soreness and how to tell the difference, as well as alternative medicine.