• Sarah Wiseman

Cramping in Pilates?

Cramping in Pilates

Cramping in your Pilates class! Does this sound familiar? You are in your Pilates class doing the Swan Dive or Thigh Stretch for example and suddenly your foot or calf cramps. Forget the exercise it is agony! All that lovely relaxing, focusing, and concentrating out the window!


What is Cramp?

A cramp happens when a muscles suddenly shortens and becomes tight and spasms, although the reason why is not clear. Many cramps do not last long and can be relieved by massage & stretching.

Common causes of cramp (not limited to):

· aging

· over training with exercise

· tight muscles (usually opposite pairing muscle)

· lack of flexibility in muscle pairings

· pregnancy

· medication for lowering cholesterol

· not drinking enough water

· too much alcohol

Areas of the body most affected by cramp during Pilates:

· Arch of the foot

· Toes

· Calf

· Thigh

· Abdomen & rib cage area

What can we do when we get cramp during Pilates?

Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all when it comes to who and why we experience cramps. Stretching the affect muscle or area when experience cramp usually helps. In most cases once the area has been stretched and the spasm has gone that is usually the end of the problem. However, occasionally if the spasm has been particularly bad you may feel some muscle soreness, in time that should go away.


When exercising, even during a Pilates class it is important to stay hydrated. Chances are you have not drunk enough during the day, especially if you have been at work all day or exercising in other forms such as running, cycling, or swimming. Drinking lots of water just before a Pilates class wouldn’t be beneficial and often you just feel it slopping around in your stomach whilst performing the exercises, and it won’t help stopping the cramp!


Over training – training hard and fast regularly can lead to muscles becoming tired and more prone to cramp. Sweating during these training sessions will lead to dehydration as above and hence higher risk of cramping during your Pilates class. So, we need to drink more during exercise and let our body to rest as well.


Tightness and flexibility – Muscles work in pairs. If you are commonly experiencing camp in a set of muscles, it could be that the pair muscle is tight.


Eg: Cramping in the muscles at the front of your hips (hip flexors), this could indicate your inner glute muscles are tight. Stretching and building strength in both areas regularly could help ease the onset of cramp.


Common muscles that are tight or in flexible in swimmers / triathletes / runners / cyclists:

· Hip flexors

· Inner glutes

· Hamstrings

· Quadriceps

· IT band

· Calf (big calf and long calf)

· Ankles


Useful stretches for tightness or inflexibility:

· Wide Child’s pose (hips and back)

· Pigeon pose (hips, glutes, and IT band

· Hamstring stretches

· Quadricep stretches

· Calf stretches