How Pilates can help neck pain

We have all spent a lot more time at desks, in front of Zoom or Teams and not moving as much as we should have, over the last two years.  Whilst this situation has certainly not helped our mobility, it can be hard to pinpoint the causes of the niggles and aches we can all experience in our neck. Whether it’s an accident, longs stints at the laptop or the wear and tear of daily life there’s one thing for sue . . . . neck pain can quite literally be, a pain in the neck! 

This is where Pilates can help.  Pilates improves postural awareness, body alignment, easing neck pain and preventing future injuries. The breathing techniques used can also relax any unnecessary and unwanted tension around the neck, providing an active but calming rehabilitation. Plus, Pilates exercises rarely soothes just one area of your body. In fact most Pilates exercises reduce tension and increasing flexibility in your shoulders, knees and back as well. 

If you are struggling with neck pain, here’s our top 3 Pilates exercise to reduce your aches and pains, whilst also preventing them from returning:

1. Neck Roll

This exercise extends the top half of your body and actively engages your neck, back and shoulders, helping you find the correct posture. 

  • Lie down on your front, facing the mat.  Separate the legs to the width of your mat and press your pelvic floor down towards the mat whilst drawing the navel towards the spine.
  • Tuck your elbows under your shoulders and lift off using your chest.
  • Keep your core engaged and ensure that your shoulder blades are pulled back and down.
  • Look to the right, roll your head down to look into your navel and then out again to look to your left in a fluid semicircle. 
  • From your left, complete another semicircle going in the opposite direction.
  • Return to centre, looking forwards. 
  • Repeat twice in each direction.

2. Swan

The Swan improves posture and reduces neck pain by bringing strength and mobilisation to your upper body. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Lie on your back, connect your pelvic floor with the mat . . . and exhale!
  • Press your hands into mat and send your elbows back towards your heels. As you do so, allow your chest and upper spine to peel off the mat into an upward arc, keeping your lower abdominals engaged. Don’t forget to keep sending your tail bone down towards the mat!
  • Pause and inhale at the top of the arc.
  • Exhale and start to slowly lower the body back to the mat. 
  • Repeat 3 times. 

3. Breast Stroke

An exercise to compensate for the forward and hunched position we find ourselves in at our desk, Breast Stroke strengthens our back and neck muscles and improves posture. 

  • Lie on your stomach, feet hip-width apart and your hands resting just next to your shoulders. 
  • Inhale and as you exhale, reach your hands over your head as you lift your head off the ground slightly. 
  • Inhale and circle your arms around to your side like you are doing breast stroke in a swimming pool!
  • As you do this, lift your shoulders and chest off the floor and hold them here for a couple of seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times, remembering to breathe through the movement.  

Try to build Pilates into your weekly routine, the more we can move and stretch our bodies the more flexible it will become.  If you would like to have access to move Pilates session, why not join our online membership?  This will enable you to join our daily Pilates workouts and watch many sessions on catch up at your convience.  Click here to find out more.

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