Bone Pain with Exercise

Exercise often causes soreness in your bones and muscles, especially when you've started a new exercise. When bones see increased amounts of stress, your body responds by building more bone mass in the area, ultimately strengthening the bone. However, if the stress is too much or you're feeling bone pain rather than mild soreness, you might be causing damage. Because continuing to exercise may cause further injury and even a fracture, take precautions not to aggravate or worsen the pain.

A woman is experiencing leg pain.
Credit: Astrid Gast/iStock/Getty Images

Common Causes of Bone Pain

Both the location of the pain and the type of exercise that induces bone pain should be considered. You might experience pain when you ramp up your exercise, such as when you begin training for a marathon. High-impact activities such as running can cause stress fractures, which need medical attention. Other conditions that can cause bone pain include osteoarthritis and osteoporosis. These two conditions, which are more common in older adults, are serious -- if you have persistent bone pain, be sure to seek out the opinion of a healthcare provider to determine the root cause.

Cut Back on Exercise

The treatment for almost any ache and pain after exercise is to cut back on your workouts for a period of time. Reducing or changing your exercise allows the bone to rest and heal. Typically, you want to avoid doing any type of exercise that hurts. If you want to remain active, look for exercises that won't put any stress on the painful area or that are low-impact. Because bone pain occurs frequently in high-impact exercises such as running, stop running for a few days and see if the problem resolves. Low-impact activities include walking, swimming and biking.

Pain Relief

Because bone pain can have a negative effect on your overall quality of life, you should not ignore these symptoms. Icing the affected area reduces swelling and can help you to feel better much faster. You may also want to treat pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication. These not only decrease pain, they also reduce swelling in the area. Be aware that these measures are not meant to be used long-term. If your pain persists more than a few days, make an appointment with your doctor

Low-Impact Exercises

Even though you may be feeling bone pain, you don't have to give up exercising entirely. You may want to avoid high-impact exercises and sports such as running, football, soccer and basketball. However, you may not feel pain with lower-impact exercises such as swimming, bicycling, elliptical machines, rowing and golf. You may also be able to take up high-impact activities slowly and increase your tolerance over time. Take note of how your body responds to exercise and avoid doing too much much, too quickly. Your body may need to adjust at a slow pace to avoid pain.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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