Can I Do Pilates With Sore Muscles?


We used to stack our Pilates classes, we’d practice almost every day, sometimes twice a day. We’d practice with sore muscles and then bang, injury. And this was the unfortunate lesson we received in the dangers of over exercising and also the importance of rest. 

Dani, our massage therapist kept asking, how many classes a week are you doing? Sometimes, the answer would be 11! 

She’d then say something like, you’re working like athletes but you’re not resting or recovering like athletes. 

It took us several injuries before we finally learnt our lesson! 

So yes, the moral of the story is, you can do Pilates with sore muscles or any form of exercise, but the question is, do you really need that extra mat class? Or should you take a day off, or do some light stretching instead? 

As a trainer, whether you’re a Pilates instructor, Yoga Instructor or certified personal trainer it’s super easy to get carried away with teaching and your own practice. 

You love what you do, you feel strong, but there’s only so much your muscles can handle! Same advice goes for practitioners as well, it’s also important to note that when you are over-exercising you’re most certainly overworking a certain area of the body too. 

For me (Emma) I was doing far too much upper body work. I got slightly obsessed with planking and side planking, this led me to a shoulder injury that lasted over 2 years! 

If I had deleted a Pilates class off my weekly schedule and replaced it with a rest day or some gentle stretches, I might not have had to go through this!

No matter the type of exercise you do, whether it’s heavy strength training or Pilates exercises, it really is important to take those rest times when you need it. Just 12 to 24 hours of relaxation can do your mind and body a world of good!

What about delayed onset muscle soreness, DOMS?

You might have heard of DOMS, it stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. It’s muscle pain that you feel after your workout, normally about a day or even 2 days after. 

Any high intense workout can lead to DOMS which is caused by tiny tears in your muscle fibers. This damage signals your body and then leads to inflammation to heal, yes, inflammation can be good and bad. On that note, ff you are looking for anti inflammatory Yoga poses read this article! 

It’s not the same as the soreness you sometimes feel during a workout. That pain is known as acute muscle soreness. This is the burn you feel during a workout, caused by the metabolites build up during intense exercise. 

We call it the good bad burn in our high intensity Pilates classes, it usually disappears as soon as you slow down and stop exercising. It’s like ohhhh yeh I’m working hard and I am amazing, I can feel the blood flow pumping woohoo!

DOMS is not a bad pain either. It is just a sign that you worked your body, maybe in a way it’s not used to. Maybe you pushed yourself a little further past what you’re used to. 

If you’re experiencing this kind of pain, it’s better to actually keep moving and not just rest beach bum style. It’s better to do low impact exercises, maybe some gentle movement like walking or stretching at this time. 


No pain no gain, right?

We dislike this saying on so many levels! Just because you’re not feeling any burn during, or after does not mean your workout leads to no ‘gains’! 

If you were to start a new workout regime like if you went from weight training to 50 minutes of Pilates moves, you will feel sore! And vice versa, if you’re used to Pilates and then add a heavy weights training session, ouch! 

But if you consistently workout in the same style, you most likely won’t feel sore the next day but you will still benefit in so many ways!

It’s also important to know that the advice we give you is not individualised for you. It’s really important to tune in to your body, to gain self-awareness of when you need to rest and when you need to push yourself. And of course, if you do have an injury, be sure to seek medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a healthcare professional.  

As we mentioned, at one stage with our Pilates practice we were doing far too much! We were over-exercising and pushing through pain that led to injury. Now we know when to push ourselves, we know when to take a rest day and we know that gentle exercise, is still exercise!

We love sharing this mindset inside our MerryBody Online Yoga and Pilates Studio. We don’t shame Members for taking rest days, in fact we applaud them! We say “this is what MerryBody is all about, tuning into what your body needs!” 

It’s about moving in a way that feels good for your mind and body. It’s about moving for the sake of the movement itself! The fact that it’s simply a good workout! It’s about creating joy from your exercise practice. Come and try out a free class over here!

The class is designed to work your booty, core and thighs. It’s also a lot of fun!


Always merrymaking,

Emma + Carla

Ps. if you’re ready to try a class out right now, try this one and get ready to work your muscles!


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