Whenever you get yourself off the couch and start training it can be a difficult experience. We’ve all been there, whether you’ve never really done activity ever or you are an athlete who took a few months off. Maybe you are just getting back into it after overcoming an injury. Whatever the case may be there is going to be some soreness as you begin training your body and muscles to be active.
It’s important to be able to identify the difference between the good hurt and the bad hurt. Good hurt means you’ve pushed yourself just enough to begin the muscle building process, bad hurt means you’ve overdone it and are at risk of injury or possibly, already injured. Knowing the difference between the two kinds of hurt can make all the difference in your training program.
The good kind of hurt is that achy soreness you feel after a good workout. Perhaps you just had an awesome leg day. The next day you wake up feeling weaker than you were the day before. This is usually the good kind of hurt. It means, “Hell ya, I just killed that WOD and now I’m going to hobble up these stairs today.” If the soreness ever lasts more than two days, you know you went too hard and that’s when you have to worry.
Good hurt can come in many forms but usually it’s just muscle soreness or stiffness. I have great news for you, there is a way to overcome the good hurt and it all comes down to stretching, foam rolling, and even massage. Yes, the massage, one of the best recovery systems there is, self-massage or professional massage. No matter which you choose both can help aid in recovery from this “good hurt” you are experiencing. Foam rolling is a very effective way to massage your muscles yourself. Always take a proactive role in drinking lots of water. This helps to flush all the lactic acid out and keeps your muscles hydrated. Remember the adult body is made up of 50-65% water.
When your muscles are sore from a workout it’s because you have torn the little fibers, when these fibers rebuild you develop scar tissue which forms a stronger bond building a bigger muscle. That’s the most unscientific way to put it. When the muscles are growing you need to constantly stretch them and help them to recover, if you don’t you’ll become even stiffer and lose flexibility. You should stretch before and after your workouts, as dynamic stretching has been touted as being safer than static stretching, but both serve their purposes.
One thing you want to avoid more than anything is the “bad hurt.” This is the kind of hurt that doesn’t go away after a day or two. This is the pain that lingers; it could be a tear in your muscles, tendons, or a broken bone. You’ll know when you’ve gone too far because the pain will be excruciating. If the pain only kind-of sucks and fades, it’s probably the aforementioned, “good hurt,” if the pain is sharp and doesn’t dissipate in a short manner of time, it’s most likely a “bad hurt.”
Unless you can tell immediately that something is seriously broken or torn, you’ll want to give it a day or two before going in to see a doctor. Remember doctors have a lot on their plate and deal with hundreds of patients. You don’t want to be the person that goes in, wastes their time, your money, just to find out your have a little muscle soreness. Some good ways to identify if what you are experiencing is “bad hurt” are to stop and take a breath. Can you still move around without shooting, sharp, targeted pain? If the pain is very centralized it could be the “bad hurt.”
The “bad hurt” is something you’ll usually feel more immediately, it’ll be distinct and something you don’t want to push through. The “good hurt” usually comes the day following your workout. All pain is different and sometimes it can be hard to diagnose so of course when in doubt go see a doctor but give it a day or two, if you can bare it, and make sure it’s not just something minor that will go away with some proper rest, stretching, foam rolling, massage, or some good ol’ ice.
Take good care of yourself before and after your workouts and hopefully you’ll never have to experience the “bad hurt.” Be smart, stretch often, foam roll, drink lots of water and Spartan on!