Pain after working out – have you overdone it, or is it an injury?

Muscle pain, swelling, irritation: Athletes should take their body’s warning signs seriously, remember to take breaks and adapt their workouts accordingly.

It’s every athlete’s worst nightmare: A foul, a fall or one wrong movement and something snaps. It’s clear that something has gone wrong. So get to a doctor, right away! But sometimes the pain increases slowly afterwards. Or sometimes everything’s fine while working out or during the competition, but afterwards the knee or ankle starts to swell and become painful.

Overexertion as a result of overtraining or incorrect training
If the pain or swelling occurs within 48 hours of working out, it might be an indication of overexertion. If the swelling remains for more than one or two days, you should take a break – at least until the symptoms start to improve. It is a good idea to ice the affected area. You should consider how the overexertion occurred in the first place: Did you do too much, or did you fail to pay proper attention when doing a particular exercise?

Pain is always an indication that something is not quite right. You shouldn’t ignore it or think that a “real” athlete would just grin and bear it – your health has to take priority. So, listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly. Also, don’t forget that it’s not just pain that might indicate that you have overdone it – tiredness and irritability could also be signs that this is the case. Sport itself is just the stimulation – the actual effect occurs in the days between workouts. This means that breaks are just as important as workouts.

Get advice from your coach or doctor
If you’re not sure whether you’ve done something wrong, or simply done too much, get advice from an expert. An experienced coach can quickly gauge what has gone wrong – and give you tips to avoid it in the future. Even people who have done sport for a long time are susceptible to technical mistakes.

You should always consult a doctor if your symptoms do not clear up within a few days. After all, continuing to train with a torn ligament or a strain that has not fully healed can result in lasting damage. In the worst-case scenario, the person affected may never enjoy sports again without feeling pain.