Clinical Conversations

Mechanical Pain versus Muscle Soreness

Sports Injuries require Physical Therapy TreatmentA mistake that people often make is waiting too long to start physical therapy treatment for their aches and pains. This commonly occurs because you may be thinking, “this will go away on its own,” or, “it’s just normal for me to feel like this at my age.” I want to clear up some confusion on mechanical pain versus normal muscle soreness that does not require skilled therapy or treatment.

Muscular Pain:

  • Experienced after a sudden increase in activity or exercise.
    • Running 6 miles when you typically only run 2 miles
    • You increased the intensity or length of time to your typical workout
  • Will be experienced 1-2 days after the increased activity has been performed and will typically begin to dissipate or be gone in 3-5 days after onset.
  • Is typically vague pain or experienced in a general area. The pain will not be sharp or pin-point to a specific area.
  • If you’re educated on what muscles perform which actions, the sore muscles will correlate with what activity you were performing.
  • Does not have increased or decreased pain associated with positions.

Mechanical Pain:

  • May have a sudden onset without explanation of occurrence (you woke up with pain for no apparent reason).
  • Will typically have a loss in range of motion. For example: it may be difficult to stand up straight in the morning or after prolonged sitting or driving.
  • Will have positions that will increase or decrease symptoms. For example: pain increases with sitting, pain is better while lying down.

If you’re experiencing mechanical pain the sooner you seek physical therapy treatment, the better! A good Physical Therapist can determine which exercises will reduce your symptoms and get you back to doing the activities that you love!