Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

Aches and Pains

You might have heard the phrase “good pain vs. bad pain.” What does that mean? Isn’t all pain “bad?” Not necessarily. Sometimes, pain just indicates pushing yourself in a workout or soreness from trying a new exercise. And sometimes, it’s an indication of something that requires more attention.

Symptoms of Good Pain 

  • “Hurts so good” kind of pain that appears 1-days after a hard workout, strenuous activity, or trying a new exercise. 
  • This sensation is usually spread out over a large area of the body, like the front of the legs after a bike ride or hike with a long downhill. 

 Symptoms of “Bad” Pain 

  • This pain is often sharp and can be in a smaller area, often near a joint or sometimes radiates down the arm or leg. 
  • It is intense and sharp discomfort that returns quickly upon return to exercise.  

 What Should I Do If I Feel Pain? 

For “good” pain: gentle movement, resting the sore areas, good sleep, and adequate hydration. 

For “bad” pain: Rest the painful area – this may mean modifying activities, gentle pain-free range of motion in 1-3 days as tolerated. Ice, elevation, and compression may also help.  If this pain doesn’t resolve and is impacting daily function, you may need to see a doctor or therapist. 

Not sure if your pain is the “good” kind or “bad” kind? Our physical and occupational therapists can evaluate you to see if you might benefit from treatment. You can schedule a free screen to discuss concerns around pain.


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