Soreness is good. Not only is it validation of your previous day’s work, but it also is an indication that you’re getting fitter. But how do you know when the “soreness” might actually be a pulled muscle?
The easiest answer I can give is if the muscle is swelling. If I do 100 pull-ups today, my biceps are going to be sore tomorrow–maybe so sore that it’s painful to extend my elbow. But I won’t have swelling in the bicep.
This is a common misunderstanding with extreme soreness. Your previous day’s workout caused an excessive amount of tears in the muscle fibers (i.e. how you get stronger), but you didn’t necessarily “pull a muscle.”
The other answer I can give you is when you feel pain in the muscle. If you feel it during or right after your workout, you probably tweaked or pulled the muscle. But if the muscle groups don’t feel pain until later, also known as DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness), it’s not a pulled muscle.
For a pulled muscle, you don’t want to use it for a few days. For a pulled hamstring, that looks like walking and jogging instead of running or sprinting. For a pulled bicep, that looks like push-ups instead of ring rows or pull-ups.
For muscle soreness, there are four ways to recover quickly. They are all laid out in the video below, as well as this blog article.