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Should You Push Through Pain When Exercising?

By Sara Butler

This is one of the most common questions people ask their chiropractors – if something hurts while exercising should you stop or keep going? This isn’t a simple answer, as things are rarely black and white. But there are some things you should keep in mind that can help you determine if the pain you are experiencing when exercising is normal or if it’s an indication you need to stop and see your chiropractor as soon as possible!


One of the most common causes of pain when exercising is muscle soreness. When you feel sore or achy after or during exercise it’s usually due to microtears in your muscles and tendons that results in inflammation. When you put your muscles through the paces as you exercise, the muscle tears that occur are a normal response. When these tears repair, it results in helping you to build and grow muscle.

When you start a new exercise or go back to something you’ve not done recently, you may feel sore or achy for a few days after. Rest will improve this feeling, but this pain is a perfectly acceptable one to push through. In fact, physical activity will probably ultimately help you to feel better.

A Persistent Pain

If you experience sharp pain that is persistent as you exercise, that's a signal from your body that you need to stop. This kind of pain is often indicative of an injury and is the result of too much stress on, or overuse of, a tendon or muscle. It can occur after one episode of muscle overloading or after repetitive use.

You need to view this type of pain as a signal from your body that you are going too far and may be causing damage. Do not push through this type of pain or you may be risking serious injury.


While resting muscles that are painful is a part of the healing process, you also need to move in order to keep as much range of motion as you can. You can treat muscle pain and soreness by alternating ice and heat. Just remember that you may not want to halt the inflammation process altogether since it’s your body’s way of healing injuries. Excessive inflammation is obviously a problem, but a little swelling and heat is manageable and probably a good idea to help heal.

If you have any questions about injuries you think you may be experiencing or any pain you may be having during exercise, your chiropractor is a great resource!

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