Melbourne Podiatry Clinic

Decoding the Aches: Distinguishing Between Post-Workout Soreness and Potential Injuries

Decoding the Aches


Embarking on a fitness journey often comes with its fair share of aches and pains. Whether you’re an avid runner or a gym enthusiast, understanding the signals your body sends is crucial to discern between normal post-workout soreness and potential injuries. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to differentiate between these sensations, ensuring you navigate your fitness routine safely and effectively.

Decoding the Aches

Post-Workout Soreness:

Muscle soreness following a workout, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), is a common and usually benign occurrence. It typically sets in 24 to 48 hours after exercising and is a result of microscopic damage to muscle fibres. 

Symptoms of post-workout soreness include:

Generalised Discomfort:

  • Post-workout soreness is often a widespread sensation that affects large muscle groups. It can feel like a dull, achy pain and may be accompanied by stiffness.

Gradual Onset:

  • DOMS tends to develop gradually, reaching its peak within one to three days after exercise. It is not an immediate response to physical activity but rather a delayed reaction.

Improved with Movement:

  • Contrary to injuries, moving your muscles can actually alleviate post-workout soreness. Gentle stretching and low-intensity exercises can help improve blood flow and ease discomfort.

No Sharp or Persistent Pain:

  • Soreness is typically characterised by a dull, throbbing pain. Sharp, persistent pain during or after exercise may indicate an injury rather than the usual post-workout discomfort.

Running Muscle Soreness:

Runners often experience specific types of soreness related to the repetitive nature of their sport. Here are some key indicators of running-induced muscle soreness:

Localised Discomfort:

  • Unlike post-workout soreness, running-induced soreness may be more localised, affecting specific muscle groups involved in running, such as the calves, thighs, or shins.

Impact on Joints:

  • Running can place stress on joints, and soreness in the knees or hips may indicate overuse or improper form. If joint pain persists, it’s crucial to address it to prevent potential injuries.

Sensitivity to Touch:

  • Sore muscles from running may be tender to the touch. If pressing on a specific area reproduces the pain, it’s likely a result of muscular fatigue rather than an injury.

Potential Injuries:

While soreness is a normal part of the fitness journey, it’s essential to recognise signs of potential injuries to prevent further damage. Here are indicators that your discomfort may be more than just typical soreness:

Sharp, Persistent Pain:

  • If you experience a sharp or persistent pain during or after exercise, it could be a sign of an injury. Stop the activity and consult with a healthcare professional.

Swelling and Inflammation:

  • Injuries often come with noticeable swelling and inflammation. If you observe these signs, it’s crucial to seek medical attention promptly.

Limited Range of Motion:

  • Difficulty moving a joint through its full range of motion may suggest a more severe issue. Seek professional advice if you notice persistent limitations in movement.

Distinguishing between post-workout soreness, running-induced discomfort, and potential injuries is crucial for maintaining a safe and effective fitness routine. Listen to your body, be mindful of the type and intensity of pain, and consult with a healthcare professional if you have concerns about persistent or unusual discomfort. By understanding these distinctions, you can better navigate your fitness journey and ensure long-term health and well-being.

Andrew Maitland - Podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic





Written by Andrew Maitland – Podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic

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