Pushing Through Pain – A Pilates No-No
By Cathleen Rodgers
We’re all familiar with that “no pain, no gain” motto that trends in the fitness world, but you won’t hear it in a Pilates studio. In Pilates, we do our best to avoid or minimize pain, rather than push through it. That being said, there are two different types of “pain.” The good pain is muscular—perhaps those muscles are on fire during that Reformer sequence, or are a little sore the next day after a particularly challenging workout. This is how our muscles and bodies gain strength in a healthy fashion, and it’s good to “feel the burn” when your muscles are working hard. Get rest, nourishment, plenty of fluids, and those muscles will be ready for more action in no time!
The bad pain is anything referring to pain in joints, ligaments, or even nerves in the body—a pinching sensation that happens during a certain movement, for instance, or a sharp pain that has been recurring in your body. These are the pains that we DO NOT work through in Pilates. There is something functionally wrong within the body when this happens. Sometimes these pains go away on their own; other times it is symptomatic of an injury that has developed. Regardless, your Pilates Instructor is there to help you work around the pain. Pilates is an amazing movement method because it lends itself to so many variations and modifications of the exercises. Your Instructor will modify your movement, skip others, and even give you a little homework of your own to try and solve the issue in your body.
Anytime I hear a client say something along the line of “I’ll just push through it” or “it doesn’t hurt that bad, it’s probably fine” I can’t help but cringe. We need to be smart with our bodies. Pain is our body’s way of telling us NO! Don’t do that! It can be difficult to take a step or two back and let our bodies recover, but in reality, this is the only way it will. The more we push ourselves through the bad pain, the more we exacerbate the issue, causing more damage. We all have aches and pains and whacky things that happen in our bodies…it’s ok to acknowledge these and be realistic with yourself.
Take note, this all applies regardless of whether you are in a Private session or taking a class. Always notify your Instructor BEFORE your session of any pains or other odd things happening in your body. If you’re in a Private or semi-private session, the Instructor will have their attention on you that full hour to guide and correct your movement. If you’re in a class, listen to the modifications that the Instructor offers you for certain exercises, and do them. Do NOT try to continue on with the rest of the class if you know you shouldn’t. Be smart. Everyone is there to workout and reach their goals, and everyone has to modify movements at some point or another. Safety is the top priority in the Pilates studio—without working safely and mindfully, your body will not benefit in the same way, and you could end up hurting yourself. So please always listen to your bodies and keep your Instructors in the loop, they will help you get back to that 100% in no time!