No pain, no gain, right? That’s what they say, but how do you know if your pain is serious or you’re just sore from a long workout? For starters, soreness usually only lasts a day or two and you shouldn’t feel any pain if you are sitting still. When a muscle is sore, it’s usually in both legs and covers a large area (i.e. both quads, both calves, etc.).
Pain, on the other hand, lasts longer than a couple days and can hurt even when you’re sitting still. Pain is typically in a specific spot or joint and may throb. Pain usually gets worse with activity, while soreness might loosen up or even go away once you get warmed up.
If you had a hard workout and nothing happened that would cause an injury but you can’t tell if you are sore or injured, take a day off. If you’re that sore from your workout, you need to give your body time to recover anyway, and you’ll likely feel better in a couple days. If you don’t want to take that much time off of training, go for a low-impact activity like swimming or cycling—as long as it doesn’t hurt.
We all dread going to the doctor for fear he or she will tell us not to run, but if you do think you have an injury, the quicker you get diagnosed and take care of yourself, the quicker you’ll get back out there!