The fitness mindset for years has been “no pain-no gain”. Now, this is something that should be taken literal, while also taking not literally. Basically, pain is a language your body uses to communicate with you. It is like yelling. Yelling at someone is not always bad if you are trying to make sure they hear you, but if you are yelling because you are angry, well, that is a different story, and chances are you are yelling certain words (that you probably shouldn’t yell).
Pain is the same with the body. Pain can let us know we are doing something, almost to make sure the body is “listening” to the workout. On the other hand, pain can also be a way of telling the body that what it is doing is not right, yelling physical “expletives” at it to stop!
Knowing if pain is good or bad is usually something you won’t know until a day or two after you work out. When a person works out, there will be some sort of discomfort, but when it is good pain you usually can push through. Now granted, some people have a really high pain tolerance. Many times, you will find women as being more of a glutton for punishment then men, so they look for pain of any kind as a way of confirming they got a good workout.
The brain has a way of telling the body it should stop doing what it is doing. To stay on the safe side of things, if you get that urge to stop, you should stop. Also, if they pain is more of a searing and isolated pain, chances are it may not be the right kind of pain.
“Feeling” your workout a week later is different than being abused by it. For example. If you have never taken a spin class and decide to take the boot camp-black diamond class for your first try, chances are you will not be able to walk right for a while. Now this is not always a bad thing, but it will influence your ability (and want) to workout consistently because you will be at home with heating pads all over you. On the other hand, if you took a class where you did 500 yards of walking lunges and you felt a pop in your knee and maybe you were able to finish the class with some discomfort but the next day woke up in awful pain and could not walk, this is a problem. Your body is telling you that you did something not good to your body.
In the end, listen to your body. Test your limits while respecting them. Do not push pass pain that your intuition is saying not to.