IF IT'S GOOD FOR ME, WHY DOES IT HURT?
What happened? Why does it hurt?
Well, congratulations. You've made up your mind and you're ready to get things moving. So, you hit the gym at 6:30am yesterday morning, and today you can barely make it up the steps. What happened? Why can't you move? How long will you stay in pain? Is this good pain or bad pain? Some pain is the result of a good, hard workout, however - it really is important to distinguish between the pain that accompanies a hard workout and is simply muscle soreness, and the pain that is indicative of injury.
Whatever exercise you've decided to do - whether it is running, group aerobics, weight-training or cycling, it is very likely you'll experience muscle soreness and perhaps feel some stiffness after your first time out, and again when you are beginning the next exercise session. It takes about ten minutes for your body to loosen up and feel well-oiled as you are warming up for the session. This would be a good time to assess your body's state - how does it feel?
Is it muscle pain, or am I hurt?
Expect to have some stiffness and soreness for up to 48 hours after your workout. You're feeling great as you workout, and then the next day you are feeling not-so-great and pretty sore. In the fitness industry, this is known as delayed onset muscle soreness. Don't let it stop you from your workout, however rather than increase levels, this would be a good time to warm up, stretch well and lighten the load - don't push yourself too hard. The stiffness should disappear in about ten minutes and you can carry on with your workout. Wait until tomorrow for the increases to the level of intensity you're striving for.
Should the pain remain through your warm up, trim the work out back and make it a very light one - avoiding, if possible, use of the very sore areas. If the pain increases with or after your warm up, stop exercising and treat the area that's hurting with ice. It's possible you may have injured yourself and pushing through this sort of pain can cause more damage.
It's like home renovations - tear it down, rebuild it.
Remember though, the process of building muscle works like this: the exercise causes a strain on the muscle, creating little tears, and these tears, when they heal, create stronger muscle. The soreness you feel is the tearing process, however the muscle will rebuild itself within 48 hours and you'll come back stronger than before.