A GUIDE TO EXERCISE PAIN, WITH MARY KINCH, OLYMPIC PARK SPORTS MEDICINE
There are three types of pain associated with exercise:
1. EXERCISE BURN = GOOD PAIN
A burning, aching discomfort in the exercising muscle groups, paired with a burning in the chest as you breathe hard. It's due to the build-up of lactic acid in the exhausted (unfit) muscles. You can push through a moderate (not extreme) amount of this, and as you get fitter over time you'll be able to push through more and feel less discomfort. This type of pain should stop as soon as you finish exercising
2. SHARP, INCREASING PAIN IN A MUSCLE OR JOINT = BAD PAIN
A sharp, increasing pain in a joint or muscle when exercising, like a shoulder pain when lifting or a sharp cramp in the calf, is considered undesirable or bad pain. It may be signalling an injury. This type of pain will usually continue, too. If you experience this type of pain, stop immediately, pop some ice on the area and rest.
3. CONTINUED MUSCLE SORENESS = GOOD PAIN
This pain/muscle stiffness/swelling, often called DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), comes on slowly (usually 24-48 hours after you've finished a workout). It indicates a micro trauma to the muscle fibres which isn't necessarily serious. Usually moderate to light walking, swimming or cycling will help you ease this feeling. If the DOMS is really persistent, then rest up and ice the spot. Massage and anti-inflammatories can help you recover faster.
Above all, take things very slowly. Be patient in building your fitness and pay attention to the correct technique to best avoid encountering bad pain.