Neck Pain Pilates Exercises


Neck Pain Pilates Exercises

An increasing number of people are experiencing neck pain at younger ages. The use of smartphones, tablets and computers has our generation hunched over, especially young people. Basically look around on the street, in restaurants, on the buses or trains. Without a doubt, from children to adults, the percentage of people leaned over their phones with their head forwards is astonishing. “Walk down a busy city street and try to find someone that makes eye contact. You are more likely to run into somebody walking toward you so engrossed in their smart phone. In essence, their walking is slow, automatic, and inattentive. This applies to people of all ages” (Cuéllar, Jason M. et al, 2017).

The Text Neck

Spine surgeons are noticing an increase in patients with neck and upper back pain, likely related to poor posture during prolonged smartphone use, according to a recent report. (Medscape, 2017).
As a result, the new “Text Neck” is an increasingly common presentation in physio, osteopathic and chiropractic clinics. Increasingly, more young patients who should not be having neck issues are reporting disc hernias and upper back poor alignment problems.

Recent studies report that people hold their neck and head at approximately 45 degrees.  The average weight of the human head is around 5kg. This weight greatly increases as a person hunch over. For instance, at a 15-degree flexion, it adds 27 pounds. The stress on the spine increases by degree added. A sixty degree incline bend adds an extra 22kgs of strain on the neck. As a matter of fact, continuous stresses lead to early wear and tear, degeneration and eventually surgery.

According to Medscape,“A more practical recommendation would be frequent rest breaks or some physical exercise that can strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles,”
Therefore, lifestyle changes are widely recommended to relieve stresses caused from a “text neck” posture.

Can Pilates help?

Neck pain Pilates exercises aim to correct poor posture by restoring the natural curvatures of the spine and correction of shoulder alignment. This is done by correcting muscle imbalances in the neck, upper back and scapulae and mobilising restricted joints. All things considered, neck pain Pilates exercises are aimed at strengthening weak and long muscles and lengthening short and tight muscles of the neck, and upper back and shoulders.
For that reason, by correcting poor shoulder movement patterns one can optimise upper back alignment and therefore, help reduce wear and tear on the neck joints, which can cause pain.

Which Neck Pain Pilates Exercises Best?

With a text neck posture, the head goes forward, the upper back hyper flexed and rounded shoulders, so the muscle imbalances tend to be as follows: Upper back muscles and under chin neck muscles are weak and long while back of the neck musculature is short and tight.
Therefore, we recommend upper back extensions and mobilisations. At the same time, exercises that strengthen the upper back muscles, scapular stabilisers, retractors, and external rotators of the humerus. At the same time, exercises that strengthen the neck flexors, as these will tend to be weak and long.

Exercise Examples:
Spinal extensions:

Exercises for back pain extension prone

1) Thoracic extension, strengthening spinal neck and mid back muscles. Hold position for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times every day

Exercises for back pain 1

2) Articulation into upper back extension. Arms light on floor. Neck should follow curvature of lower back and avoid hyperextension 

Exercises for back pain extension prone

3) Progression. Arms under forehead adds weight, longer lever. Great for people with depressed shoulders. 

External rotations of the humerus
Spinal Flexion: Ab prep

Exercises for back pain ab prep

1) Flex your upper and middle back maintaining pelvis and lower back in neutral

Performed slowly and correctly, these Pilates exercises provide a solution to poor posture, neck and back pain.

Blog written by Carlo Yanez
Registered Osteopath B.A.(Hons.), B.Ost.(Hons)
Fully certified STOTT PILATES® Instructor

Leaning Forward During Smartphone Use May Cause ‘Text Neck’ – Medscape – Apr 14, 2017.
“Text neck”: an epidemic of the modern era of cell phones? Cuéllar, Jason M. et al. The Spine Journal, Volume 0 , Issue 0.