Here are 5 general rules:
- Learn to understand what pain is (hear me out on this).
If it's a sharp, shooting or acute aching feeling that's not normal. If it's a burning or tired muscle that is ok. If you ever have sharp, shooting or consistently aching joints stop!
- Are you injured or just have tight, sore or weak muscles?
When you're new to exercise it can be confusing. For example, a new walker/runner can have weak shins & calves. During exercise, they'll scream. After exercise, they'll be sore.
By progressing, stretching, strengthening & icing those muscles, most people will be fine. If you ignore it and 'push through the pain' (aka, no pain, no gain) you'll most likely become injured.
- Enjoy sore muscles.
If you exercised the day before (or sometimes day of) & your muscles are generally sore (again, not in one spot) when you walk, turn or twist & it lasts only a couple of days you're ok. You earned it, enjoy!
- Listen to your body.
For example, if you have sore shins for a week, then their ok, then they're sore for a week, etc...it's time to look at what you're doing & figure out why. Are you over training? Are you stretching & strengthening? Terrain too rugged? Shoes old?
- If something lasts a couple of weeks, time to take action.
Bottom line, learn to listen to your body. If you're not sure, ask a professional. You can start with your trainer who may refer you to see a doctor. Better safe than sorry!