Debunking The Myths Of Muscle Pain After Yoga and Pilates

Yoga and Pilates changes your body on so many levels. These practices nourishes our internal thoughts and mental patterns. They supports our sense of spirit and inner understanding.

They also cleanse, repair and revitalize our physical body, including our muscles, bones, cells and the systems that keep our bodies functioning such as our nervous, cardiovascular and digestive systems.

This process of working deeply into the self in various ways can leave you feeling an array of different feelings at the end of your class.

Whilst lots of people enjoy feelings of weightlessness, calm, joy or peace post-practice, many also wonder…

If there is no muscle pain or burn after my Yoga or Pilates class, does that mean I am not getting stronger?

Many people have a misconception about post-exercise muscle pain. And it is easy to see why.

Living in a results-driven world we love to know we are getting the most out of everything we do. If we are working on our body, we want to know it is having an effect. We want to FEEL the improvement, the achievement and the change we are looking for.

Well, we have some good news for you! Just because you don’t have that muscle pain or fatigued feeling after your Yoga or Pilates class doesn’t mean you aren’t making any change to your body! In actual fact always pushing yourself to feel the burn in your body may be a bad thing.

What is really going on in the muscle when I do Yoga and Pilates?

So what is happening, on a microscopic level, when we experience muscle soreness?

Every time a layer of muscle activates and moves in your body – from getting out of bed to walking up the stairs, to brushing your teeth and waving hello – tiny muscle fibres are working hard to flex and pull your bones. This is what creates all body movement.

When these movements are more substantial, such as when we do Yoga, Pilates or other exercise, the tiny muscle fibres split and break. This is completely normal and part of the amazing cyclical nature of our body. You can not even feel these microscopic muscle tears happening!

When these fibres split, cells in our body come along to repair them. The repair process allows the muscle fibres to be fixed, nourished and rejuvenated – thus making them stronger than before.

Sometimes during the repair process, the cellular renewal that takes place can be extensive. This often occurs when you have a break from your Yoga or Pilates practice, or exercise routine. Your first session back may need a larger repair response from your body.

When this happens the body is working hard to repair your muscle fibres, which can result in a feeling of tenderness, burn or fatigue.

No pain is great, some pain is good, a lot of pain is bad.

Sometimes we need to build muscle strength by activating our muscles in a way that brings about light soreness or muscular pain. However, it is not ideal to put the body in this state of stress all the time.

Those tiny muscle fibres will not benefit from being torn to this extent every class you do. It is much healthier for the body, and more effective in the long term, to build muscle strength on a more regular and pain-free basis.

Not feeling pain does not mean you’ve completed your Yoga or Pilates session in the wrong way.

Your muscles are still getting stronger! Even though you can not feel it, on a microscopic level your intelligent body is working away to improve your strength and repair your muscle.

Forget the saying “no pain, no gain”. Too much regular pain will just increase your risk of damaging your muscles fibres.

Listen to your body. Yes, you can enjoy those moments of healthy muscle pain but remember…

Your body is smarter than you think!

Those times when you step out of the studio without that burn in your muscles doesn’t change the fact that on a cellular level your body is working hard to build and maintain your Yoga and Pilates strength!