Ask Rael Q & A: 17th Issue

by Rael Isacowitz

I’m starting to take strength-classes. Sometimes I’m really sore the day afterwards, when I have a Pilates private scheduled. Should I postpone, or is it fine to work through the ache? 

I will start by saying that the reason for the soreness felt following strength training, called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is not conclusive and neither is the remedy. There has been, and still is, an ongoing debate about both the cause and treatment of DOMS. The cause is thought to be the microscopic tearing that occurs during strength training due to the high load on the muscles. Due to this microscopic tearing muscles do need time to repair. That is the reason it is often not recommended to do strength training day after day without a break in between. However, Pilates is a completely different type of training and does not have the same affect as strength training on the muscles. The waste products that build up in the body on a cellular level have also been thought to contribute to the soreness.

Regarding recovery, no one way has proven 100 percent effective to alleviate DOMS, and it often comes down to individual preference. Personally I think doing a Pilates session the day after strength training, when you maybe feeling some soreness, it is an excellent strategy. However you may want to mention your physical state to your teacher. She can then tailor your session accordingly. Rather than a session that focuses on strength work, she could focus on stretching, muscle endurance, and as always, on posture, alignment and the quality of the movement. It could be a lighter, more basic session, rather than one that incorporates very challenging exercises.

In fact I believe that every session should be well suited to your physical and mental state. Some days you may feel like pushing yourself, and others you may feel like working the body more gently. I have always found that doing a light session when the muscles are aching will invariably make the aching subside. It also keeps the joints mobile and muscles flexible, plus very importantly, it will keep your routine consistent and on track. Remember Pilates is not only for the body, but also very importantly, for the mind.

By alternating between strength training and Pilates, you are well on your way to a well-rounded fitness routine. Add to that cardio-vascular work and some recreational activities, and you will achieve what we all strive for – wellbeing!


This article first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Pilates Style Magazine. For more great stories about Pilates, check out the latest issue of Pilates Style, on newsstands nationwide, in the app store or at

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