Good Sore

Good sore vs bad sore: The bodies communication through aches and pains


‘No pain, no gain’….. Pardon, what! Well that’s what they say anyway when it comes to fitness. Don’t get me wrong I’m all about making gains, but how do we know what type of pain is a good type of pain, if there’s such a thing? ….

Ok, yeah, there is such a thing! But how DO we know the difference between a good sore and a bad sore?

Just when you thought 30mins of exercise was painful enough, allow me to introduce you to DOMS also known as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness.’ No need to stress though, DOMS is the good guy! DOMS is the inflammation and the tiny muscle tissue tears caused by the physical stress put on your body during exercise.

It actually means your muscles are growing … ‘GAINS!’ Usually developing a couple of days after a workout, DOMS is a completely normal muscular burning sensation that you feel equally across the body in the muscles you have worked. You may also recognise this particular type pain that develops after exercise, during simple activities such as standing, lifting and the dreaded decent to the toilet seat.

Even though you have muscular soreness and can often feel sluggish and tired, you can still maintain regular exercise. The best news is that this good sore is short lived, lasting only a couple of days. Initially DOMS is uncomfortable, but believe it or not you may even grow to like this type of pain. Let me be the one to tell you experiencing a ‘good sore’ is definitely a reminder of how hard you’ve worked, which admittedly is a good feeling.

Before we go any further, I would just like to say… ‘I am not a doctor or a medical professional, simply a fitness fanatic. So if you believe you are experiencing the bad kind of sore, you should absolutely seek medical advice from a doctor or medical professional.

‘Bad sore’ is generally unilateral and isolated tenderness, sharp pains, and swelling are signs to watch out for when performing more strenuous or repetitive exercises. While over the counter pain relief, anti-inflammatories and good old fashioned rest can sometimes help with severe soreness, it’s important to remember that if the pain remains the same or does not go away you need to seek medical advice. Also if

  • You need to increase medication for pain relief
  • Your pain is consistent or progresses even with rest
  • Your pain is disrupting your sleep
  • Your pain is affecting daily activities
  • You’re developing tingling, numbness or loss of mobility


This could indicate something more serious like joint damage, ligament damage or stress fractures. Even if the level of ‘bad sore’ is mild, you shouldn’t ignore it. The silent treatment or cold shoulder won’t work on this one.

Taking the time to treat any soreness, good or bad is essential, and understanding and identifying the difference between the two is beneficial to your health and fitness progress. So learn about your body and what the aches and pains are telling you, and it will give you a greater understanding of how to look after YOUR body better.

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