If you are in a core strengthening or pilates classes, you will feel the aches in your abdomen. This is pretty safe. You are working those abdominal muscles that had not been engaged for awhile.
However, if you are feeling the tensions in your lower back, neck or shoulders while practising core strengthening exercises; you are definitely approaching with the “Just do it” or “no pain, no gain” way, where your mind is focused on pushing yourself to achieve the results. This approach is not safe and will definitely lead to injuries or more pains down the road.
I had taught in private, small and big group classes. I had seen many students do it wrongly or rather that they are Not aware. I give repeated reminders for them to stay safe in the exercises. If you are new, I always recommend that you are go to a private or small group class to learn the fundamentals.
With the correct approach, basic core exercises can be challenging, as you give 100% full attention to engaging your deep core muscles (Transversus Abdominis), applying mindfulness into each movement and breath. Mindful breathing and movements can help in back pain relief.
For beginners or people with weak core muscles, I strongly advise that you do not mix your cardio workout with core strengthening exercises.
Meaning that you do not try to do more repetitions or challenge yourself to higher level of exercises to feel that you are “working out”.
During your practice, whenever you feel tired or start to lose control of your movements, you should transit to the modified version to stay safe and effective. Example: In the Pilates hundreds exercise, as you get tired, your head might start to lower and “hang”, tensions build up in your neck and shoulders or your lower back starts to arch; at this time, you should lower your head down to the mat or bend your knees (go to the modified versions) to release the tensions and complete the exercise by focusing on your breaths and continue to engage your deep core muscles the effective way.
In conclusion, if you are very strong in your core muscles, you will not need to squeeze your shoulders or thighs to complete the exercise. If you are, you have to go back to basic and try to understand if you are targeting the correct muscles or had been compensating the whole time. With the correct approach, regular practices and even short 15mins home practices can make a big difference.
Please go to my instagram account (ompulence_34) for more videos on The Breathing Pilates – focusing on helping beginners pilates students and people with back and neck pains. You will get learn more tips and reminders on how to practise safely and effectively.
* You can also download my Free E-Book here –
5 Easy Breathing and Pilates Exercises to
help reduce back and neck pains
Stay connected and drop me a message on my FB page (Ompulence) or Instagram. Let me know the questions you have on your pilates and yoga practices. Have a good practice!
Carol Cheong is a pilates and dance instructor for close to 20 years.
She had been a flight attendant and dance studio owner in her 20s and 30s. Now, she adopts the yogic lifestyle and loves connecting with her students through movements and breath. She launched an elective course (Pilates and Yoga) in the university in Singapore and her dance choreographies are frequently featured on national TV station in Singapore. [www.ompulence.com]