• Dr. Tameka Duncan, DPT

Good Pain vs Bad Pain

Are you improving or maintaining your physical fitness during this time of quarantine due to the Coronavirus?  Many people that typically frequent the gym have resorted to home workouts and others are just beginning or re-establishing their workout routines.  Maintaining your physical fitness is a great way to boost your immune system.

As beneficial as exercising is there is always the risk of injury. Whether you are a seasoned athlete, weekend warrior, experienced gym-goer or newbie injuries can happen to anyone.

So how do you differentiate good pain versus bad pain?

I like to think of good pain as the mild discomfort that you may experience as muscle burning or fatigue while performing an exercise or stretch. That sensation of mild discomfort should subside within 1-2 min after completing the task. I also attribute DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) as good pain. DOMS is the soreness or mild discomfort that you may feel 24-48 hours after performing an exercise routine. It’s normal to experience DOMS as you initially begin a workout routine or progress your current routine; however, DOMS should not last more than 48 hours. DOMS lasting more than 48 hours could be an indication of an acute injury resulting in damaged soft tissue (muscles, tendons, or ligaments).

If a “mild” injury is sustained, you can attempt to self-treat by using the PRICE method:

  • P - Protect (guard the injured area with appropriate bracing or sling, etc.)

  • R - Rest (avoid pain provoking activities)

  • I - Ice (reduces pain and swelling)

  • C - Compress (provides support and reduces pain and swelling)

  • E - Elevate (reduces pain and swelling)

If you have not seen any improvements within 1 week while performing the PRICE method it is advised that you seek professional help from a licensed physical therapist. An acute injury left untreated can lead to chronic pain and recurrent injuries.

The state of Tennessee is a Direct Access state for physical therapy, meaning you can be evaluated and treated by a physical therapist without seeing your physician first.

Dr. Tameka Duncan, PT, DPT, Cert. MDT

Founder - Vitality Sport & Rehab



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