Injury vs Muscle Soreness

Everyone gets injured at some point. Whether you suffer a significant injury, or just have to deal with nagging pain, it is going to come up at some point in an active lifestyle. The good news is that you don't need to stop training. In fact, a lot of the time you don't need to sacrifice your fitness. However, you will need to train smarter. It is important to recognize soreness over injury and know what to deal with yourself, and when to seek the advice of a professional, such as a physiotherapist or a chiropractor.


There are times when you are going to be some from training, and that is totally normal. However, you also need to be able to differentiate between soreness and an actual injury that needs professional attention.


Here are some guidelines that should help you decide when it is time to seek some help:

  • The pain is in the joint
  • The pain is at the musculotendinous junction (where the muscle turns into tendon before it connects to the bone).
  • The pain initially increases (after an acute event or after a set)
  • There is swelling at the injury site
  • You have any sort of numbness/tingling sensations
  • There is sharp, persistent pain

Muscle Soreness

Sometimes, you are just sore. Soreness can be caused by muscle damage and often will go away will some proper rest and care. Here are some guidelines to know if you are sore, vs injured:

  • The sore spot feels better after it is stretched or massaged
  • The pain is diffuse, and not spot specific
  • The soreness is in the muscle belly and not the joint or musculotendinous junction
  • The soreness is less after you are warmed up and have been moving for a while

While you can always do something in the gym, regardless of your injury, it is important to recognize when it is time to seek professional help.



B.Kin, Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology

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Author: Mark Murdoch, Kinesiologist, Chiropractic Student. Have questions? Email me. I want to help!