Muscle Soreness vs Muscle Pain
It's quite likely that anyone who has ever gone to the gym and exercised for the first time has experienced waking up to the most enjoyable pain the following day. A pain that feels so good that it inspires you to go to the gym and do it all over again. It is a form of pain that does not really constitute injury but is painful nonetheless. This pain is called muscle soreness. Muscle soreness is what most people call the good pain. Although it is one of the most common complaints when starting a new exercise program or whenever there is an addition or a new component to a training regimen, which is particularly the case if you are using groups of muscles which have previously been inactive. Muscle soreness should be regarded as a reflection of all the hard work that you have put into the gym. However, muscle soreness should not be confused with muscle pain, because there is a definite distinction between the two.
The difference between muscle pain and muscle soreness is that muscle pain is almost always associated with an acute, sharp or a jabbing sensation. If you experience this type of pain your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong by delivering a signal for injury. It is an indication that you may have seriously damaged yourself and should stop or ease up for a while. If the pain, in any way shape or form persists and hinders you in doing your regular everyday activity then you should seek medical help right away so that it can be treated and can heal as quickly as possible. Muscle pain injuries are caused by not using proper form when doing a particular exercise, failure to get a sufficient warm-up before exercising and lifting weights that are too heavy without using proper support or spotter. Obviously these are all scenarios that can be avoided by: a) thinking clearly and sensibly and b) knowing when to ask for help-either for a spot-or how to the exercise correctly. So if you're one of those people that are too shy or too proud to ask for assistance, swallow your pride for the sake of your own safety. Everyone who goes to the gym has the same goals-that is to produce a better physique-anyone should be more than happy to lend you a hand.
Muscle soreness on the other hand is the result of minute and controlled damage to the muscles, ligaments and or tendons. Muscle soreness can also be caused by the build-up or accumulation of lactic acid within the area of the muscle that is being exercised. For example; if you exercise the pectoral muscles with bench press, incline press or cable cross over-your chest and its surrounding area are going to be sore. When muscle activity produces more lactic acid faster than the circulatory system can dispose of, the excess amount that is left over is what causes the burning sensation that you feel in the last few repetitions of your exercise - it is also the cause of post workout soreness.
Generally there are two types of soreness-acute onset soreness-the kind that occurs right after an exercise and usually dissipates within a 3 to 4 hour time period because of a lack of blood circulation to the muscle. When this type of soreness occurs during your exercise it is wise to relax and rest and allow your muscles to recuperate before moving on. The other type of soreness is the delayed onset soreness which doesn't really hit you until 2-3 days after you exercise a particular muscle. In addition, this type of soreness can last up to a week. If this type of soreness persists for more than a week that means that you're lifting more than your body can handle and you should ease up. If the pain keeps persisting consult a physician. Muscle pain should not be taken lightly because it can be the prelude to even more serious injuries.
But the good news is, despite the soreness in the muscles "the good pain"-you can still keep training as long as you can differentiate what pain is and what soreness is. In fact, you will actually start feeling better once you start your exercises and the soreness gradually dissipates. This is because when working out, you actually pump more blood into the painful/sore area.
Other treatments that can also help alleviate soreness include saunas and massages but the only real treatment to sore muscles is rest. Rest gives your body a chance to recuperate and heal those minute tears in your muscles.
So, how often you should train? One rule to go by is to never to train a muscle that's still sore from a previous workout, because not only are you asking for an injury, but you're also overtraining. When you overtrain you make little or no progress despite your hard work because you're not giving your body a chance to heal. Also bear in mind that lack, or dissipation of muscle soreness doesn't tell you whether a muscle has recovered completely. In fact, the damage can persist even when the ache has gone away.
How can you avoid muscle soreness and prevent injuries? The answer to that is simple, you cannot avoid muscle soreness because we are constantly moving our bodies and we always use different muscles. You can reduce the soreness by making a warm-up a part of your daily regimen. By including stretches before, in-between and after your exercises, along with the use of light weights to start your workout, you will take the precautionary measures to make sure that you avoid injury.
Remember, while we all agree that we'd rather avoid soreness, aches and pain because they hurt-I say that they are our bodies best friends, because they act as a barometer in which to examine our body. Soreness gives us an indication of how much we are pushing ourselves and pain tells us that there is something wrong. The point is, "listen to what your body is telling you!"