FAQ064: What is the difference between delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and injury pain?

Is it muscle pain or injury pain?

That is a question that I frequently hear in my physiotherapy clinic (well the gym side too), and it’s a good one! It can be hard to differentiate between “good” pain and “bad” pain. Especially if this is your first time exercising in awhile. The good pain is called DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. First, let’s describe the different terms.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DOMS

DOMS is common for people after they have a particularly hard workout. When you are using your muscles more than you usually do or in a different way, they can feel sore after. I get this a lot after a particularly hard weight training session. This is completely normal. In my mind it’s GOOD pain!

DOMS is the diffuse muscle pain that feels more like a fatigue. This means that is spans across the entire muscle group. It can vary in severity depending on how hard you worked the day before!

You usually start to experience DOMS 24-48 hours post-exercise session. DOMS is generally only felt when you are moving the muscle group that you used in the workout. At rest, you can feel a fatigue or tiredness but that is generally it.

Injury Pain

There are different types of injury pain that can range from pain in your joints, tendons or ligaments. These tend to be a bit more localized to the spot of pain. There can be a referral pattern which is a shooting style of pain with movement. Injury pain tends to be sharp with particular movements.

With injury pain, you can also have pain or throbbing at rest.

This type of pain is more of the “bad” pain. That maybe you pushed a little bit TOO hard in that training session and you need to take it back a bit.

I hope that comparison helped! Keep checking back for more blogs and FAQ videos. We want to share all of our knowledge with you!

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Christina Prevett

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