Most people with neck pain struggle to find treatments that help. Not everyone benefits from stretching, strengthening exercises, or massage. If you are suffering from chronic neck pain, it might be time you take a different approach. This article discusses the benefits of mind-body exercise for people with neck pain. You will also learn 2 basic Pilates and Yoga exercises for neck pain.
Pilates and Yoga Proven to Reduce Neck Pain
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine looked at 56 people with chronic neck pain. Researchers placed participants into 3 separate groups. One group performed 6 weeks of Pilates. Another group performed 6 weeks of Yoga. The final group performed isometric neck exercises.
All 3 groups reported large improvements in neck pain. There were no statistically significant differences between the 3 groups. However, both the Pilates and Yoga groups reduced their pain by an astounding 47%. Those doing isometric exercises reported a 35% improvement.
This study proves that well-designed mind-body exercise programs have the potential to significantly reduce neck pain. The rest of this article teaches you how to start on your own.
2 Pilates Exercises for Neck Pain
Pilates emphasizes 5 elements: breathing, postural alignment, rib and scapular stabilization, pelvic mobility, and utilizing the deep abdominal muscles. Each exercise is initiated by stabilizing your core. This includes your abdominal, glute, and spinal muscles. All exercises are done through a slow and controlled range of motion.
Many traditional methods of muscle training require maximal effort. However, with Pilates, the focus is on energy efficiency and movement quality. Each exercise is repeated only a few times, usually 3 to 5. During each exercise session, the body is constantly being exposed to new challenges.
Arm openings and breaststroke are great to start with. Arm openings improve rib cage and spine flexibility. Breaststroke strengthens your upper back and improves posture.
2 Yoga Exercises for Neck Pain
There are many forms of Yoga. Hatha Yoga is one of the most common types used as physical exercise. Hatha Yoga focuses on breathing while moving in and out of various postures. The goal of Yoga is to challenge yourself both physically and mentally. As your mind focuses on each breath, you become calm and accepting.
Yoga breathing is more deliberate and controlled than your normal breathing. Breathe in through your nose for a few-second count and out through your nose for a few-second count. Keep your mouth closed. The meditative and calming effects of Yoga can have profound effects on pain. This is why so many people choose Yoga as their main form of exercise.
Below are examples of 2 excellent Yoga postures that we find helpful for people with neck pain. Chair Bharadvajasana improves spine and rib cage mobility. Tadasana, or “Mountain Pose”, improves flexibility, posture, and balance. Maintain each posture for 10 to 20 seconds.
See Your Physical Therapist for a Personalized Plan
Mind-body exercises like Pilates and Yoga are proven ways to decrease neck pain. However, similar to other types of exercise, you have to get started and stick with it for at least 2 months. The 4 exercises included in this article are great to get you started. Some can do it alone. For others, you may want to reach out to your physical therapist or contact your local Yoga or Pilates instructor.
The doctors of physical therapy at BSR have been helping people in Southern Ocean County move without pain since 2007. If you would like extra help starting or progressing your exercise program, call our office to schedule your appointment.