The element of pain: tired vs. injured

If I’m really working hard, gardening, cycling, even walking a lot, chances are I’ll be sore the next day. I call it “tired sore”. The muscle or connective tissue has a dull ache that stretching and movement eases. Heat feels good as well as massage and chiropractor. Sometimes I’ll grunt or moan as it stretches out but the movement feels good, it’s a painful pleasure. This sounds way kinkier than I mean to but I’m trying to get at the feeling of muscle fatigue that means the tissue is healing and nothing bad is happening.

I’ve noticed this more as I get a bit older. In my teens and twenties I rarely got tired sore, a night’s rest often was all I needed to recover from vigorous exercise. Now it seems if I’ve done anything interesting at all I’m a bit sore the next day, a little achy. I was talking about hip and lower back aches with my chiropractor and she pointed out that as my body has changed shape the angles of my legs/hip/pelvis/back has changed and the tissues are adjusting to my new geometry, We agreed I wasn’t injured and that the solution to my aches and pains was more movement, not less.

I compare that to an injury, say a sprain or tearing a muscle. For me with injured sore the pain is sharp, movement makes it worse and ice helps. I’ve had a few sprains and strains, usually from overdoing an activity, it hurts, it’s way no fun. Injured sore is bound to happen if I explore my limits or try new things. I do have a fear of getting injured, the recovery seems to take longer these days and some daily aches and pains remind me of injuries long passed. Being sore and occasionally injured is part of moving my body, it does heal after all, and I try not to let my fear of injury keep me from doing the things I enjoy. I’m also developing a more nuanced vocabulary around pain so that I can treat injured different than tired. Being a bit tired sore doesn’t mean anything’s wrong, far from it, it means I’m building muscle and that feels pretty awesome.

I saw these funny science parody shirts and reminded myself, there is an element of pain that is totally acceptable.

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