This is a question that comes up rather often. Sometimes it’s not exactly a question but more an evaluating criteria students use to access whether a class or workout was any good. “I was so sore the next day – that class is killer!” or “I really wasn’t sore after that class – I’m not sure it did anything”. So let’s take a look at soreness and how it relates to a “Good Workout”.
If you try something new – challenge muscles you aren’t used to using – there is a good chance you will be sore the next day. Whether in a workout or everyday life (ie. spending the day spreading mulch) – when we use our bodies in a new way – they let us know! Pilates is great for uncovering new muscles – stabilizing muscle. Often times clients new to Pilates will experience some soreness in the beginning as they awaken and use new muscles.
What is soreness – this is your muscle reacting to excess lactic acid and micro tears from the strain. That sounds bad but our bodies are designed to heal fairly fast if we nourish them properly and rest. When those muscle fibers heal they can become stronger. A balanced workout may rest some muscle groups one day or alternate activities to allow muscles to recover.
It is important to remember that soreness you feel is actually trauma to your muscles. While it is OK to push yourself and feel very sore occasionally – it is not good to induce this kind of trauma frequently or even on a daily basis. As a runner you may race extra hard and experience significant soreness the next day. But you wouldn’t do that every time you run! In Pilates- we vary your workout to challenge muscles differently and also allow for recovery. You don’t need to feel sore to have had a good workout as we are often working deeper with smaller muscles. You may expect to feel somewhat heavy or sluggish the next day instead of intense soreness.
When we continue to induce repeated trauma to our muscles we are much more susceptible to a sidelining injury. The pain you feel is a warning sign from your body. It’s telling you to let your muscles heal a bit before you stress them again.
I always let my new to Pilates clients know they will most likely be sore from our workout. I recommend they begin with only 2 or maybe 3 sessions a week to give their bodies time to adapt, develop and recover. On their off days – they can walk, run, bike, swim or try another exercise that gets the lactic acid moving but doesn’t over stress the same muscles.
If you are sore every time you workout – you are a big time candidate for over training and burn out. Soreness is not the best indicator for a “good” workout. Better ways to gauge a good workout:
1. Did I feel challenged during the workout?
2. Am I making noticeable progress – exercises are becoming easier, my form is improving or my strength is increasing
3. Do you feel somewhat fatigued but happy at the end of your workout?
I’m always happy to discuss your workout with you if you have additional questions.