When you work out for the first time, or the first time in months, we all have that dreaded soreness that comes back. This page should help you realize if the feeling you’re getting is related to pain or soreness.
This is more for people who are starting out, but it can be helpful for the gym rats who always think that their pain is soreness and try to bulldoze through it all.
The biggest problem is that pain is relative to the individual. People have different anatomies so exercises effect each of us in a different way. Some of us have a higher pain tolerance than others, and some are just used to it.
Differentiating Between Muscle Pain and Soreness
The key to figuring out the difference between pain and soreness is timing, areas affected and effect on your everyday life. The first thing is to realize how timing can affect what you’re feeling. If you are in the middle of a 300lb squat and you are feeling pain in your leg, it’s PAIN, not soreness. Anything you feel within about 3-6 hours of a workout has as high probability that it’s a pain related issue compared to a soreness problem.
If you feel fine after a workout but you start hurting the next day, it’s most likely going to be DOMS. It’s normal to feel pain anywhere from 1-3 days after working out. If it’s an especially hard workout, or you haven’t worked out for a while, that first workout might keep you sore for 4-5 days in rare cases.
That’s why it’s best to go light for the first couple of workouts to help keep yourself from never wanting to workout again. A “hard” workout is relative to the person as well. You know yourself best if you’ve been a couch potato or sitting in an office all day expect to feel some extra pain compared to your buddy who’s been working out for a while.
Is It Pain Or Just Sore Muscles – DOMS
Now the timing is a huge factor in determining soreness or pain but also think about the area affected. If it’s hurting in an area that you didn’t work out, you’re weird. In all seriousness, if it hurts in your calf when you worked out your biceps, I would consider it pain since you didn’t exercise it at all. In general, though, it’s going to hurt in the muscle group that you worked out.