Share your location for a better experience

Please enter your city or town so we can help you find the right care at the right place.

Click the X to continue without setting your location

Get care nowSign in

Health news and blog

    No Pain, No Gain — Unless It’s an Actual Injury

    No Pain, No Gain — Unless It’s an Actual Injury

    No Pain, No Gain — Unless It’s an Actual Injury

    Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. 

    Learn more about SCL Health's Sports Medicine Services and Treatments. 

    We’ve all heard the phrase before: “No pain, no gain.” But that’s not always 100% accurate when it comes to post-workout pain. Sometimes it’s easy to mistake the satisfying feeling of hard work with the much less fun sensation of a workout injury. And since it can be extra harmful to continue hitting the gym after you’ve injured yourself, we’ll explain how to spot an injury before it becomes a bigger problem.

    Where It Happens

    Yes, yes we know it mostly happens at the gym or while exercising at home, but we’re talking about where it happens on your body. Some of the most common types of exercise-related injuries are:

    • Muscle pulls and strains
    • Sprained ankles
    • Shoulder injuries
    • Knee injuries
    • Shin splints
    • Tendinitis
    • Wrist sprains or dislocation

    And we can guarantee you, none of them are the fun or rewarding portion of your exercise.

    Why It Happens

    They say the best cure is to avoid it in the first place, and workout injuries are no different. That’s why you should follow these basic rules to a better (and safer) workout:

    • Always stretch: Do it before and after your workout so that you can increase your flexibility and stretch out the soreness afterward.
    • Start slow: Don’t get too crazy when you first start exercising. You should ease into it and listen to your body to avoid any unnecessary injuries.
    • Warm up and cool down: In the beginning of your workout, get your heart rate and muscles warmed up with some light cardio. Then end your session with some walking or light jogging.
    • Switch it up: Don’t abuse one muscle group and neglect the others. Vary your routine so that you can avoid repetitive and overuse injuries like shin splints and tendonitis.

    How to Tell It Happened

    Regular post-workout soreness feels tight, achy or tender — usually in a certain muscle group. An actual injury might have swelling and will be more of a sharp and stabbing pain in a specific spot. As a general rule, normal soreness will go away after about three days and subside with rest and continued exercise. If it persists, that could be a red flag and time to talk to your doctor.

    So to recap, here’s a list of things to look for that may identify your pain as an injury:

    • Pain is sharp or stabbing.
    • Pain is in a specific spot, not a whole muscle group.
    • It hasn’t gone away after about three days.
    • It persists even after continued exercise.

    What does your workout routine look like? Have you ever had any trouble with injuries? Tell us all about your experience in the comments!