One of the worst things about returning to exercise after some time off is getting sore. But did you know some soreness is a good thing?

Muscle soreness is usually referred to as ‘DOMS’ or delayed onset muscle soreness and according to Wellspan physical therapist Jessica Kuntz, it usually comes about six to eight hours after exercise — and can last up to 72 hours.

So why is it that we get sore?

“When we are working out and trying to build muscle, part of the process to build muscle is to break them down first to make them stronger so some soreness after is expected,” said Kuntz.

Jessica says soreness or tightness in the muscles you worked during a specific activity should resolve on its own and is completely normal. But if you’re having pain in a muscle or joint you weren’t working out and it doesn’t resolve in five to seven days, she suggests seeing a medical professional.

Jessica says soreness is not an indication of progression in exercises. If you are tight and that tightness or soreness resolves during your warmup to your workout — you are good to go with today’s workout.

But if you’re still feeling tight after a warm-up, it’s better to back off and rest.

If you’re still experiencing soreness or pain beyond two days, especially approaching 5-7 seek medical attention. Especially if there is locking/catching/popping within a joint or muscle.