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Healthy Pain or Stealthy Injury: Which is Which?

This excerpt from The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery by Sage Rountree provides some quick and simple criteria for distinguishing healthy aches from potential injuries.  Read on, and remember that persistent or acute pain is something that you should discuss with your instructor and with a medical professional.

“If you feel soreness or tenderness in the center of your muscles, and you feel it on both sides of your body, it’s likely normal.  If you feel pain localized toward a joint (in the tendons or in the ligaments of the joint itself) or only on one side of your body, beware.  If the pain comes on after a workout with new movements or one that is more intense or longer than usual, keep an eye on it.  It should improve in a day or two.  If the pain continues to worsen or you feel it during exercise, especially if it affects your form, stop and have it evaluated.  [The following] table lists the difference between normal soreness and warning signs you should keep your eye on.”

Normal soreness Warning sign
On both sides of the body On one side of the body
Felt in the center of a muscle Felt toward a joint
Appears after a change in workout intensity, duration, or modality Appears daily
Improves after warm-up Worsens  during workout
Improves daily Worsens or remains daily
Doesn’t affect your form Affects your form
Generalized Localized

  1. […] For a simple way to distinguish healthy aches from stealthy injuries, see this excerpt from The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery, by Sage […]

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