Many clients have come to us suffering from some kind of chronic pain, be it lower back, a bit of arthritis, or a fussy hip for example. You may have heard that Pilates can help ease or help you manage common pains. We want to give you a program that will create strength and support in your body as a whole. So, success really requires the ability to have a clear dialogue.

Our job as Pilates teachers is to help you get moving in all the ways you want to keep living and enjoying life to its fullest. You should never be in pain during your session – and in Pilates, we do not “work through pain.” You might think that “toughing it out” is the way to go. But quite honestly, this is not the path we use toward greater strength, agility and balance.

Let’s take a “peek” inside a Pilates session, and give you tips on how to make the most of the appointment time with your teacher when it comes to communicating about pain or discomfort. This is applicable for both private and group classes as we want to be aware of the status of every individual coming in for their Pilates practice.

Health History

Along with your fitness level, include any significant pain or discomfort you’ve had history with when you fill out your initial New Client Forms and be sure to discuss it with your teacher. We interested in that background because it’s the starting point from which to help you moving forward.Office Worker with Neck Pain at desk

The 411

Every time you visit the studio, mention any health change updates, or anything that may have happened. For example, say the dog decided to take off after a rabbit and he pulled your shoulder suddenly with the leash. Or perhaps you spent long hours of cutting tree branches over your head so you’re much sorer than usual in the neck and shoulders.

Even though we’re working the body as a whole, knowing this kind of detail before we begin means we can tweak and tailor the session more specifically to what might need more attention in your body.

Be as specific as you can

It’s important for us teachers to know that something “hurts” or that you have pain during a certain movement. If you can be observant and share specifics about it, that will most certainly help us fine tune your Pilates program.

In some cases, a discomfort you might be feeling, may simply be a set of muscles you haven’t accessed before, or in a looooong time. So maybe it’s a new sensation of muscles working correctly. And it’s important to share that with your teacher too, so that we recognize whether or not we’re on the right track!

By the way, you don’t have to have a lot of technical terms to be specific either. Here are some examples:

  • My knee hurts when I go up the stairs, but not when I’m going down.
  • It feels like a pull or a strain rather than a joint or a nerve thing.
  • It’s a dull ache that feels like it’s in the muscle here (point to where it is), and it seems to be the worst when I first get up in the morning.

On the other hand, here are examples that don’t give enough specific information:

  • This bothers my shoulder
  • I feel it in my neck
  • Something is going on with my wrist

If you don’t have another way to describe what you’re sensing, that’s very much OK. It’s better to mention it, regardless. And then your teacher can ask you follow-up questions to gain further understanding.

Don’t miss the moment

I’ve had sessions come to an end when my client finally shares she was experiencing discomfort during the such-and-such exercise 20 minutes ago. Okay now, finding out after wards is a bit helpful. However, we missed a valuable opportunity to direct change in the moment where it would have been the most effective.

Most everyone who comes to us is indeed looking for a change and that’s what brought them to Pilates. So it’s important not to miss out on the dialogue as part of the foundation for your session.

It’s your program! And we as teachers want to provide you with the adjustments, cues and tools that help you, feel strong, confident and empowered.

We look forward to working with you in the studio!

Get the Most from you Pilates Session: Communicating about Pain summary

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