The first time you try anything, doesn’t matter if you run, do Crossfit, bike, or engage in any form of sports or martial arts, do you find yourself waking up the next day, unable to move, every muscle aching and sore? That every time you finish a new routine or sweat through a new set of exercises, you end up getting out of bed the next morning, your normally spry, lively and agile  self out of sight?

Here are 5 top things you need to know about muscle soreness to help you cope and deal with it better:

It’s gradual and shouldn’t last beyond 3 days.

 DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness often appears 6 to 8 hours after the activity and lasts for at least 24 to 72 hours. It doesn’t happen while you’re doing the activity. So your muscle soreness should basically go away after three days. If you get into the same activity and find yourself still unable to do it, it could mean you overdid it. Try taking it easy for the next few days until you get your old nimbleness back.

It’s good.

Say you train your body for long-distance running. The pain and soreness happens as your muscles try to adjust and perform according to the demands of the exercise. In this way, introducing a small dose of muscle trauma often encourages muscle growth. So the next time your muscles feel achy, know that it’s your body’s way of getting stronger. You could also try going for a massage to get your muscles unknotted. It’ll help you feel better in no time. 

It’s not an injury.

When you pull a muscle or fracture a knee, you’ll know it as soon as it happens. There’s no gradual post-exercise time frame for it. Plus, the sort of acute, debilitating pain that usually comes with an injury is far from the achy discomfort associated with muscle soreness. So make sure you don’t confuse one with the other.     

It’ll feel less sore the longer you go.

That’s often true. The longer you train your body, the better your muscle memory gets. And that allows you to endure longer, harder sets of exercises. However, your genes are still a factor in your strength, endurance and fitness. So if your body is genetically highly responsive to pain or soreness, you could experience DOMS worse than those with low sensitivity to pain and soreness, even when you’re both doing the same exercise. Don’t blindly push yourself through the pain, thinking you need to reach the same level of performance others do. That sport or activity could be the wrong fit for your body build or genes. Find out if those play a factor before you end up doing more harm than good with the wrong exercise.

It should be evenly distributed.

If you’re feeling sore all over, that’s actually better than feeling sore in just your knees or elbows. If the soreness is concentrated in one area, it could mean you’re doing the exercise all wrong, putting undue stress on your joins or muscles. One way to fix this is to make sure your form is correct when you do the exercise.

Keep these 5 things in mind whenever you find yourself dealing with muscle soreness. And the minute you feel something’s off, don’t take unnecessary chances with your health. Have yourself immediately checked out by a doctor.