Is Yoga or Pilates Enough?

Dr. Jeremy James: DC, CSCS

I commonly see patients who consider themselves to be ultra-fit because they excel at a method of training, sport, or exercise class. This includes people who are masters at CrossFit, Pilates, martial arts, various types of yoga, running, swimming, cycling, skiing, etc. Usually these people are quite shocked to learn that they have significant weaknesses and imbalances, which, over time, have caused serious dysfunction and pain.

Before I go any further, let me first say that being good at any of these activities is usually far better than being sedentary, or even moderately fit. Each of those activities mentioned have substantial benefits to the participant. Troubles can arise when one of these activities is taken to the extreme, without being built on a proper foundation.

I’ll pick on yoga briefly because it has some of the most dedicated adherents, who also turn out to be the most surprised when things go south. Depending on the type (I am generalizing here), yoga can offer a multitude of benefits including increased flexibility, endurance, strength, and mental well-being. With some types of yoga, die-hard enthusiasts tend to become too mobile, or hypermobile, over time. While mobility is important, especially in the hips, people who do some types of yoga exclusively will find themselves too mobile at the expense of stability of the spine and endurance of the supporting musculature. After a few decades, this will land them in my office wondering how this happened to them. They are also usually quite surprised to learn that they must avoid or alter certain poses to stop further injury from occurring.

The same can be said to varying degrees for most other sports, classes, or training styles. Some are better than others but few, if any, are perfect all by themselves. Taking one concept and thinking it should be applied as much as possible all over the body doesn’t work. Flexibility is good to a degree in certain areas. Strength is the same. Stiffness is the same. Balance is key.

Any exercise routine should be built upon a solid foundation of spinal stability, hip mobility, proper movement patterns, and good posture. I have touched upon these concepts in previous blogs. Once these are learned, practiced, and incorporated into your exercise routines and daily life, you can enjoy those other things that you like to do. Just remember, if there is something you absolutely hate doing, you probably need more of it.

As always, feel free to send us a message with all your questions about spine health and fitness at Good luck!

Out of Pain. Into Possibility. Jeremy James.