Good Pain vs. Bad Pain


Pain is a tricky thing when we talk about running, because yes, as with any new or intensified workout your body will feel some pain. But there is a difference between what we call “good pain” and what we call “bad pain.”

Good Pain


The pain of sore muscles and a tired body is what we are talking about when we say “good pain.” People may use phrases such as “feel the burn” or “no pain, no gain.” When introducing a new type of workout to the body it is normal to feel some mild pain in the muscles and body fatigue. This is the body adapting, breaking down muscle to rebuild it stronger, lungs burning and learning to increase capacity and oxygen transportation.

So how do you know when pain is good pain and when pain is bad pain.

Bad Pain

  • Pain that begins to affect your athletic performance is a problem. If you cannot keep proper form, you will only do damage to the body.
  • Pain that sticks around for too long is a problem. While some muscle pain or fatigue is normal for 2-3 days after a workout, it should begin to subside. This kind of muscle pain typically will also loosen up and get better as you do some mild workouts in the meantime. Bad pain will only feel worse with continued movement.
  • Pain that doesn’t go away with rest. After introducing a new or difficult workout, the pain and fatigue you feel from the workout should go away within a few days of rest. If this pain does not go away or continues to get worse, it’s not good pain.
  • Pain that affects things outside of your workout. If you begin to notice the pain is affecting the way you walk, sleep, etc. it may be bad pain.
  • When the fatigue drags on for days it can be a sign of overexertion. Overexertion can quickly turn to pain and injury, so this is not a good pain.

Remember that all bodies are different and you may feel pain different from the ways described above! You can begin to learn your body and become better acquainted with the feelings of good pain versus bad pain as you continue to workout. Please consult with your doctor before adding any new workouts to your schedule. I am not a doctor, so please consult with a doctor if you are ever unsure about your feelings of pain during and/or after a workout.

Icons made by Freepik from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

Post Author

Nicole Hillstead-Jones

RRCA Certified Coach & Nutrition Minor