• Clare Lewey

How much pain is good pain?


Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness DOMS

We've all experienced a certain amount of pain after physical activity. If your activity involves using muscles that haven't been properly exercised in a while, then pain often occurs as a result, up to 48 hours later and the majority of us shrug this off thinking nothing is seriously wrong. Is this good pain or not? At what point should you consider going to a physiotherapist?


Understanding Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness


Sore muscles after physical activity, known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), can occur when you start a new exercise programme, change up your exercise routine, or increase the duration or intensity of your regular workout. It may also develop if that exercise has a large eccentric component where the muscles are contracting while lengthening – e.g. downhill running.


DOMS is the result of micro tears or strains in the muscle which results in an inflammatory response and in some cases, swelling. It is usually localised to the involved muscles and will result in muscle stiffness and tenderness. The good news is that once you start moving your sore muscles, they will start to feel less painful, and after 24-48 hours the pain should disappear.


Although DOMS can be painful, it is usually regarded as good pain because it is a clear

indicator that you're beginning to effectively train muscle groups. Regular paced, varied exercise of all muscle groups, as well as giving the body a chance to rest and recover, will help prevent further occurrence.


But what if the pain continues? Is this still delayed onset muscle soreness or should you start suspecting an injury?


Do you need to see a physiotherapist?


If you've got persistent or worsening pain, continuing to be made worse by exercise or persisting at rest for over a week, it would be beneficial to seek professional diagnosis from a physiotherapist.


A physiotherapist will thoroughly assess your symptoms and body mechanics to determine the type of injury, the best treatment and the prognosis and process for returning to your favourite sport or exercise.


Pain caused by injuries can be from damage to muscles, tendons, nerves or joints . Depending on the the cause of the pain, the physiotherapist will be able to advise on a course of action including physiotherapy treatment, shockwave therapy, rehabilitation exercises or a combination of all these as part of a personal recovery plan. They may also recommend, and can facilitate that you have an X-ray or other imaging such as MRI, or a referral to a medical or surgical specialist in the case of a more serious injuries.


For further information on treatments mentioned in this article, or to discuss treatment for your pain, please contact Cotswold Physiotherapy on 01993 201485 or send your enquiry here