Is this supposed to hurt?

When to persevere, when to speak up and when to stop!

If you’re coming to our classes at Pilates HQ, it’s because you want to work your body – strengthen, lengthen and move those muscles and joints. And all physical activity comes with its share of aches and pains. There’s no denying that sometimes it can hurt!

Most of us associate pain with being “bad”, or an indication that something is “wrong”, such as an injury. In actual fact, pain reflects a person’s assessment of how dangerous an input is, based on the context, belief or prior experience. In other words, we have mentally determined that something is going to hurt, so it does.

If we were to stop at the first sign of discomfort, we’d probably never exercise at all. So, when it comes to your Pilates workout, what should you be feeling? When is it a healthy muscle burn and when is it something more? When should you speak up and when should you stop?

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Muscle burn – the good pain

You’ve heard the instructors talk about “the burn” – that feeling when your muscles are on fire. It usually sets in after several repetitions of a particular exercise. That pain (believe it or not) is good pain. It is a sign of lactic acid build up in the muscles, which means you’re working hard. Go you!

The muscle burn will likely be felt in a large area, such as across your stomach, the front of your thighs, or the length of your calves. It will also have an aching feeling – that of a tired muscle. If this is the case, keep going – just a few more reps and you’re done (insert sigh of relief).

The good thing about good pain is that it stops when you stop working on that muscle, or at least dissipates quite quickly. Once the pain is gone, you will be able to move around as normal.

Muscle burn – two days after your class

You had a great class, you pushed through the burn, walked out feeling great, and two days later you’re struggling to lift your arms, laugh comfortably or sit down on the toilet easily. Yep, we all know it. Its Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and just like the muscle burn in class, it’s good pain. It will pass in a day or two. Just keep your body moving and stretch out the soreness.

Something other than muscle burn

The most important thing to be aware of is new pain. If it is not muscle burn, and feels unusual to you and is concerning, alert your instructor. Often, a simple change in your position or a modification to the exercise will ensure you’re still working, and only feeling the good pain.

Pain does not always equal damage

Having discomfort during an exercise does not always mean that there is something injured or wrong. In cases where pain has been going on for quite some time (>3-6 months), it can be quite complex. In these cases, a little bit of pain during and after exercise is ok, as long is in the following days your ability to function and move about is unaffected.

When to speak up

  • Always and often! You know your body better than anyone. At HQ we want you to have a good workout, but we can’t feel what you feel. So, here’s what we need from you:

  • Tell your instructor at the start of your class if you have a pre-existing condition or injury that is causing you problems.

  • Always speak up during class if an exercise or particular pain you’re feeling is causing you concern.

  • Contact us at any time after your class if there is continuing pain, discomfort or concern.

No matter your pain, Pilates can help

We can create and modify our exercises to suit any injury or issue, ensuring that you rest the problem area yet still work all the other muscles. Continued movement and exercise are great for injury prevention, recovery and making sure you stay healthy, both physically and mentally.

If you have any concerns at all about your body and what you may or may not be able to do, give us a call. We can talk through your concerns over the phone, or arrange a consultation to work through the issue one on one before you join a class. We’re here to help get you moving and keep you active.

Steph and The Pilates HQ Team