It can be hard as a parent, coach, or athlete to determine if you or your athlete is feeling pain verses normal muscle soreness. I would like to help define muscle soreness verses injury.
*What is the difference between muscle soreness and injury?
Muscle soreness: felt in the muscle belly, lasting 1-2 days post intense workout, felt upon stretch or contraction of the muscle, progressively decreasing in intensity.
Injury: pain felt without change in activity, lasting more than 3 days post workout, felt upon rest, outside the muscle belly such as joint lines, tendon and ligament insertions, consistent pain (ie. pain with specific skills such as handstands, backwalkovers, dismounts, and etc.), leading to disability, no change over time or progressively worsening, redness, swelling, or numbness and tingling are present.
*What are signs and symptoms my athlete is having pain which is related to injury but may not be telling me?
Icing or heating after practice. Taking NSAIDs (Ibprofen, Tylenol, alieve). Limping at home or after certain skills or events. Favoring one side on skills. Athlete not being as aggressive as normal. A lot of balking or not wanting to perform a skill. Excessively rubbing certain body parts. Wincing with impact or landings. May develop what appears to be a fear of a skill, but is actually avoidance of pain. Noticeable swelling or bruising
*What should I do if I suspect injury?
If you expect injury it is best to seek assistance from a medical provider sooner than later. Develop a relationship with a physical therapist or doctor who can assess the athlete to determine injury verses muscle soreness. Pain is an indicator that something is malfunctioning; it is your body asking for assistance. The longer you ignore the bodies cry for help the more break down will result. Therefore, when you feel these abnormal sensations, learn to recognize them, listen to your bodies cry for help and take action. Taking action sooner than later will result in decreased healing times, faster recovery time, less time loss from the gym, and faster return to full sport activities.
Blog written by: Alicia Shugart, Texas State Physical Therapy Student and Brandi Smith-Young, PT
Photo from Shannonmillerlifestyle.com