What to Do When You Have a New Pain from Exercise

When you feel pain during or after exercise, how do you decide what to do next?

Should you stop what you're doing and rest? Should you ignore the pain and keep going?

This is especially confusing when you're starting a new exercise program or a new type of exercise that your body isn't used to... It's hard to know what to do when brand new aches and pains start popping up.

What about when you're training for a race or a competition and you can't afford to completely stop your training but you also don't want to make the pain worse?

This is one of the most common scenarios we see in our work with Memphis athletes. As you pick up a new activity or start doing more of it, you are going to get some pain, and that's normal.

Whether you're doing more of something, starting a new program, or doing a different type of workout altogether, decision-making is the most important factor in being successful.

We're going to show you a very simple framework to evaluate your symptoms and make a smart decision for what you should do next.

We call this the "Red, Yellow, Green Light Decision-making System"

chart that describes how to modify exercise based on pain level
Red, Yellow, Green Light Decision Making System

How do I know what the different levels feel like?

A Red Light level pain is one that is escalating during the activity and changes the way you are moving and going into motions. It can also be a pain that is milder but continues for hours after the activity. You may wake up the next morning and the pain is still there, and it is there all day.

When this happens, you don't have to completely stop what you're doing, but you need to take a step back. If you do not take a step back when you first feel red lights, your body may become so irritated and sensitized that you risk having to pull back from that activity completely.

A Yellow Light is a more mi