Our expert staff have experience and knowledge in all aspects of physiotherapy and sports injury management.

Subscribe to our newsletter

When does muscle soreness becomes an injury - and what to do about it

By Holly Brasher

A common question to us is “How can I tell the difference between a potential injury or just muscle soreness after I exercise?" When should I seek treatment? 

Post exercise muscle soreness (commonly known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness - or DOMS) will settle by itself where as a muscle injury won't.

Here are a few facts about  DOMS which will help you make an informed decision on whether need to seek some advice from your Physio...

• Muscle soreness or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) generally presents itself as a diffuse pain that is present within a complete muscle or muscle group.eg. the whole quad muscle.
• It particularly occurs after unfamiliar or strenuous activity and the soreness peaks at about 36 hours post exercise. So if you train on Saturday – you’ll feel bad Sunday morning and often worse Monday morning!
• It is reversible (i.e. gets better by itself)
• There may be some associated weakness and loss of range of motion which may last up to one week.


A muscle tear, on the other hand, will present as more point tenderness and is often associated with an incident when you feel the muscle “go”. It will not start to get better by itself after 36 hours and further medical attention is often needed to guide it’s recovery. You should see your Physio if this is the case.

So if I’ve got sore muscles – what do I do?
DOMS is relatively benign and there appears to be less soreness and tissue damage with repeated bouts of the unfamiliar exercise, which indicates some degree of muscle adaptation to muscle soreness with training. My advice would be to increase training gradually to avoid muscle soreness. And once you are used to your new regime, you should be ok further down the track.

The nature of exercising and trying to gain strength or fitness means that you will often feel fatigued and sore during periods of heavy training. Overloading our musculoskeletal system and allowing it to recover is how we make gains and get stronger.
The fine line is that if we don't allow adequate recovery and keep training then we get injured.
Your individual threshold for how much training load your body can handle before injury will depend upon your athletic history (how long you have been consistently training for), your biomechanics and your genetic make-up.
The longer you have been training at a consistent level the better your musculoskeletal system will have adapted to tolerating a higher training load, the better your biomechanics are the more efficient you will move and you will have a corresponding reduced risk of injury, and if you inherited good connective tissue and bone genes from your parents you will have a lower risk of injury.
Unfortunately we can't do much about who are parents are but we can control the other factors to a certain extent. 

As a general rule:
- If it’s general muscle soreness from a change in training program or exercise then have a couple of days easy training or rest
- If it's a new niggle that you haven't felt before get it checked out- you don't want to miss anything nasty
- If it's an old niggle that you have been able to self manage in the past with guidance from your Physio then you are OK to continue to train eg. recurring shin splints that you have been able to settle in the past with icing, stretching and massage
- If you continue to train and it's not improving or getting worse then see your Physio

So sore muscles are mostly ok – what about sore joints?
Whilst sore muscles are part of the process of getting stronger and fitter, sore joints are not. Damage done to muscles in training trigger a process of repair where the muscle gets stronger as a result. Joint soreness is often indicative of overload in the joint tissues i.e. cartilage, tendons, ligaments, most of which are unable to repair themselves if this continues to happen.
Rest and ice are advisable to begin with and use pain as a guide to see if cross training with another sort of exercise will be ok. The problem with these sorts of injuries is that as soon as you recommence your exercise that the pain will return.
If it does return, it is time to seek the advice of a Physio before continuing.


SquareOne are experts in diagnosing injuries from exercise and making the necessary changes to allow you to return to training and achieve what you set out to achieve.
If you’d also like to reduce your injury risk and improve your performance we’d love to show you how.


Call 9968 3424 or book online www.squareonephysio.com.au to make an appointment today.

 

 

April 23, 2017 1 Comments

Reader Comments

DOMS

Thanks Holly! DOMS - something we call all relate to! From the novice to the elite athlete...
Some timely reminders here. :)

Add Your Comments


(not published)

Physiotherapy

SquareOne Physiotherapists are experts in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal problems.

Read more

Massage

SquareOne Remedial Massage Therapists are experienced in a wide range of soft tissue therapy techniques.

Read more

Clinical Pilates

Clinical Pilates involves the conscious recruitment and control of muscular movements in the body.

Read more
  • Try out Embody today!
  • Recently Square One Physio has been working closely with Embody in Neutral Bay. Embody is Australia’s first luxury, sustainable wellness centre and it is absolutely amazing!

  • Exercise makes your brain grow
  • Physios are always telling you about the benefits of exercise! Did you know there are also mental benefits of exercise? So far there hasn’t really been any research into what kind of exercise is best for your brain though... Until now.

    recent study has given us new insight into the brain's response to exercise, and those ultrarunners and endurance athletes out there will be thrilled with the results.

  • SquareOne August update
  • Wow - what a busy few months! It's been a while since you've heard from us - and there is a good reason for that!
    Our new purpose built larger facility opened in April this year in Bridgepoint Shopping Centre - just across the hallway and we've been working hard to get this running smoothly. We now have 6 treatment rooms and a dedicated exercise space. 
    After almost 10 years - it is so nice to finally gain some much needed space!
    One of the key reasons for our expansion is to cater for the increasing number of exercise programs we have developed to help our patients to progress from acute injury through to return to activity, sport and work.
    Our new specific Clinical Pilates equipment and Functional Strength and Conditioning area allow us to work alongside our patients to help them achieve their goals – whether they are lifestyle related, rehabilitating from an injury or wanting to improve sporting performance.
    We are sure our new facilities will be of significant benefit to yourself and our community. 

    Feel free to drop in and say hi and check them out for yourself! 

  • 3 KEY TECHNIQUE FAULTS TO WATCH OUT FOR AND CORRECT AT TRAINING - Mosman Netball
  • Following on from the interest in our last article on the KNEE program we have highlighted some key elements to look for to improve those critical factors that have been linked to an increased risk of injury when performed badly.
     
    As Physios, our trained eye is always watchful to eliminate these poor techniques demonstrated below. With some help, you can too. Be proactive and help our girls to enjoy a lifetime of sports and exercise.
  • Happy Birthday Lauren!
  • Happy Birthday to our fabulous physio Lauren! We hope you enjoyed your cake and have a great day!