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Knee soreness after starting Pilates may indicate underlying alignment problems.
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Pilates lengthens muscles as it strengthens them, increasing proper body alignment, flexibility and joint mobility. Pilates trains the body to maintain a neutral position that prevents misaligned movements and muscle imbalances. But if you are new to Pilates and already have poor alignment in the spine, hips or pelvis regions you may feel sore around the knees after starting. Poor alignment, along with weak core muscles can initially create soreness in the knees as your body becomes stronger and more properly aligned through regular Pilates practice.
Find Your Center
Combining proper breathing with movements takes time to learn. The combination of breath and movement helps you execute Pilates moves with power and efficiency without overtaxing any one group of muscles. The body wants to work as a whole, but if your spine, hips and pelvis are out of alignment, and the muscles around your girdle or core are weak, you will often feel soreness in the knees. While regular Pilates often relieves problems such as knee pain, realignment and relief take time.
Pain in the Knees
Pain or soreness around the knee can indicate several problems. Inflexible quadriceps and dysfunctional knee flexion and extension can generate soreness in the knee joints. If an underlying problem exists when you begin Pilates you're more likely to feel soreness of the knees during a standing workout that requires squatting.
Alleviate Chronic Soreness
Although rehabilitation programs differ between patients, a common approach includes correcting the misalignment of the knees, strengthening core muscles and quads and improving flexibility, key components of Pilates. According to physical therapist and certified Pilates instructor, Chantal Donnelly, build strong glutes and stretch the supporting muscles to the knees to achieve greater alignment that eases knee pain. Donnelly describes this as the twofold process: strengthen the muscles that are naturally weak like your glutes, and stretch the muscles supporting the knees, such as the inner thighs.
Consider Other Benefits
Developing a strong core puts the pelvis in alignment as well, preventing joint compression in the knees as a result. According to Princeton University, following the principles of Pilates helps center and maintain proper body alignment or neutral position, meaning the pelvis is not tilted forward or backward. However, check with your physician before you begin a Pilates a program or if you experience chronic knee pain or soreness after you've begun.