Almost every day when I see patients in my office, I will have one or two athletes or active people who tell me they have been hurting for a year – or even several years. I ask why they waited so long to get their injury checked out. They usually respond with a reasonable answer, such as “Well, I took some time off to let it rest, and I thought it would go away on its own. I finally realized that it just won’t get better.” When is no pain, no gain actually harmful?

When is pain from a hard workout, months of training or even a long practice or game in your sport something you can work through on your own, and when is it a sign of a more serious problem?

Soreness is common after aggressive physical activity. That is probably where “no pain, no gain” came from. If you push a little harder, you would see better results, in theory.

Not all muscle, bone or joint pain is benign, however. Some pain can suggest a real injury. Pushing through that pain could make an injury worse. Or it could slow its recovery. How do you know what pain is potentially good and which one is likely bad? Is no pain, no gain the best way to deal with injuries?

In this video, I discuss sports and exercise pain and other symptoms that could suggest your injury is serious. I also give my thoughts on what question you could ask yourself to decide if you should see a doctor.

Is no pain, no gain a bad rule?