Good Pain, Bad Pain from a Workout

Written by Karen Andes

That little ache could be telling you something. Columnist Karen Andes helps you to identify good pain and bad pain in your workouts.pain from a workout

If you're over 35, you've put lots of mileage on your shoulders, back and knees. So by now, you're probably intimate with different types of pain. Pain is, well ... a pain. But creaks, twinges and dull throbs don't always have to sideline you from exercise, if you know how to read the signs.

Good pain, as in "It hurts so good," is that famous "burn" that occurs when you work out hard. A kind of Holy Grail sought by many athletes, the burning is usually lactic acid, a waste product, coursing through your muscles.

The following factors are generally indicative of good pain:

  • It comes on slowly.
  • It's local to the muscles you're working.
  • It usually occurs on both sides of the body at once (if you're working both arms and legs together).
  • It disappears when the exercise is done.
  • It's associated with the tenderness you get a day or two after a vigorous workout, when muscles repair themselves. This is your body's way of telling you to stay away from another tough workout involving those muscles, until the soreness has gone. Light, limbering moves are fine, however, for warming sore muscles.
  • Bad pain is a completely different animal. It's your body's way of saying, "Yo, wake up! Pay attention here!"

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