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It Hurts! Should You Stop or Continue to Workout?

Sometimes you will experience pain during or after a workout. This pain could be caused by Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) or an injury. This is a guide to help you differentiate between DOMS and injury and decide whether you should continue to workout or not.

Injuries can occur due to a specific movement or can be caused by continued poor movement or posture.

An example specific to the gym is when you continue to perform an exercise like the Barbell Bench Press incorrectly and subsequently hurt your shoulder joint. The injury may not present itself until after your workout.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

What’s affected?

Only the muscles.

When do you start to feel it?

Typically occurs 24-48 hrs after a workout.

How long does it last?

Usually lasts 1-3 days but in extreme cases DOMS can last up to 7 days.

How does it feel when you don’t move?

When not moving the affected area you may feel tightness or a light dull ache.

How does it feel when you move?

You’ll feel tightness and pain during movement of the affected muscle(s). The pain will increase as you lengthen or stretch the affected muscle(s).

Both when moving and not moving, In severe cases, muscles can be very tender and sore to the touch. 

Should you stop or continue working out?

If you have DOMS in a particular muscle it’s safe to continue to workout. However, depending on your fitness level and consistency, your strength and performace may be impaired if you exercise the same muscles within 48 hrs.


What’s affected?

Joints (tendons, ligaments, etc) and muscles

When do you start to feel it?

Pain can come on suddenly due to a specific exercise or movement (acute), or happen due to continued wear and tear after working out. Pain can also be ongoing (chronic).

How long does it last?

Acute pain: Up to 6 months

Chronic pain: At least 3 months and over 6 months

How does it feel?

Acute pain feels sharp and intense.

Chronic pain can feel sharp, dull or burning.

How does it feel when you move?

Acute pain is brought on by specific movement.

Chronic pain comes and goes whether you move or not.

Should you stop or continue working out?

If you have an injury you should first consult a doctor.

However, if in doubt if it hurts, don’t do it

It’s possible that there are work-arounds to injuries and pain in which case you should consult a qualified professional for guidance.


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