Pilates- How often?

How often should I do Pilates? This is a question we get asked frequently both in class and in the clinic. And the answer is……… well as with many things in life there is no one size fits all!

Some clients practice Pilates because they like it! They feel it fits well with their weekly fitness routine, they know that they are getting balanced weekly exercise, but they are not using Pilates to address a particular issue or problem they have with their body. These clients may attend a weekly class, which will be sufficient for them!


However, if you are embarking on Pilates to change an aspect of your body, for example lengthening a muscle or strengthening a muscle group, then we would advise that frequent sessions throughout the week would be more beneficial- once a week will not be enough to make the desired changes.


The founder of the Pilates method, Joseph Pilates, advocated at least 10 minutes of Pilates Practice a day. If you have been to see us in the clinic, we may have given you a home Pilates programme. These Pilates exercises are targeted to treat the specific problems or dysfunctions we have found which may gave rise to pain. You will be sent a link to this programme, and there are pictures and videos where you can follow the exercises exactly to help ensure you are doing everything correctly. This programme should be regularly updated by your physiotherapist. Your system needs to be repeatedly challenged, by a variety of exercises and positions and postures. As Joseph Pilates has said;


“Pilates is not a fatiguing system of dull, boring, abhorred exercises repeated daily ad-nauseam…..”


Therefore we need to make sure we are continually challenging your musculoskeletal system in order to continue to reap the rewards from your home Pilates programme.

Flexibility- what dose it take to improve?

My clients often ask me- how do a get more flexible? How can improve my flexibility? My hamstrings are tight- what can be done?


Well a recent study investigating the frequency of stretching the hamstring muscle on the length of the muscles. The study concluded that the optimal was 6 times a week. This could be daily, or twice daily three times a week. Importantly the stretches were held for thirty seconds, twice. So really in theory it should be quick and easy to make quick gains in flexibility. It’s just about setting aside 2 minutes per day! These stretches may well form part of your Pilates programme, especially if the tight hamstrings were contributing to pain.


You might ask the question- Is it safe to do Pilates every day?


Well, Pilates is a form of strength training, and you would be right in thinking that if you are doing a programme of high intensity strength training, you need to factor in rest days. This is because the physiology of training in this way means that the training breaks down the muscle slightly, and then it rebuilds stronger. That’s exactly what gives rise to DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), or that feeling of being unable to laugh without sore abs for the following 2-3 days after a hard class!


However, although Pilates is lower intensity, it is still strength training, so we would advise alternating muscle groups, and if you have a very hard session or class focusing heavily on one area, you could work on a different area the next day to allow for recovery. Work on something else like flexibility, balance or upright standing Pilates whilst walking. Don’t leave too long a gap between attacking those harder exercises again though, otherwise you won’t build up strength and endurance, and you will be sore each time you do that particular work out.


So whats the bottom line? In my experience, once a week is a great way to supplement other forms of training, daily is preferable if using a physio led programme to target an issue and rehabilitate, but otherwise if you really want to notice the changes that you have heard about (pert bottom, flat stomach, strength and excellent posture), then 2-3 times a week is ideal!


Remember that there are all sorts of way to do more. We recommend coming in to the clinic for individualised programmes, but there are some great online resources. Pilates Anytime allows you to pay a monthly subscriptions and take a huge variety of classes by some of the best instructors in the world.


To make an appointment to see us in our Howe Street Clinic, please email us on info@physioplusedinburgh.co.uk or call 0131 226 5009.