Neck injuries and pathology
Do you have neck pain? Have you been diagnosed with one of the following?
- Disc bulge
- Disc degeneration
- Radicular pain / Radiculopathy
- Text neck / Forward Head Posture
… and you’d like to do Pilates but are afraid the exercises will hurt your neck? I’d like to share with you that you can do Pilates for neck injuries.
You can do Pilates for neck pain
A very small number of people with neck pain have a red flag because their neck pain is caused by something very serious. This is probably not you. Your health practitioner will ask you a list of questions to rule this out. Once that’s out of the way you can start improving your pain by working on getting stronger.
Studies have shown that neck strengthening reduces future neck pain by 55%(1). Therefore if you do Pilates focused on neck strengthening this will help reduce neck pain in the future.
If your Pilates teacher is a Clinical Pilates teacher they will be able to give you a program of specific strengthening exercises which you can do in class or at home. This will soon start to improve your neck pain.
Additionally, if you combine strengthening exercises with massage you will get an even better result. Not only can you go for a professional massage, you can use a tennis ball to massage yourself on the sore spots. Either one of these options will help reduce pain(4). Ask your Pilates teacher to show you how!
Things that can make it worse
There are some things which we know can contribute to neck pain and make it worse. Poor sleep quality or quantity can increase the chance of neck pain four fold (5). This is also true for depressive symptoms (6).
Furthermore, if you have poor coping ability and maintain negative expectations about your pain it has been shown that this will decrease your chances of recovering soon.
Prognosis and summary
It’s good to know that the majority of people with neck pain get better over 3-6 months. (2) (3).
Finally, things you can do to improve your neck pain:
- Strengthen (Yes! You can do Pilates for neck pain!)
- Address your sleep quality and quantity, how can it improve?
- Address any mental health issues, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional for help
- Feel reassured that it will improve
Shout out if you have any questions in the comments below!
1. Sihawong, Rattaporn, et al. “Effects of an Exercise Programme on Preventing Neck Pain among Office Workers: A 12-Month Cluster-Randomised Controlled Trial.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine, vol. 71, no. 1, 2014, pp. 63–70. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/43869810. Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.
2. Vasseljen, O., Woodhouse, A., Bjørngaard, J. H., & Leivseth, L. (2013). Natural course of acute neck and low back pain in the general population: the HUNT study.
3. Shearer, H. M., Carroll, L. J., Côté, P., Randhawa, K., Southerst, D., Varatharajan, S., . . .van der Velde, G. (2020). The course and factors associated with recovery of whiplash-associated disorders: an updated systematic review by the Ontario protocol for traffic injury management (OPTIMa) collaboration. European
4. Hidalgo, B., Hall, T., Bossert, J., Dugeny, A., Cagnie, B., & Pitance, L. (2017). The efficacy of manual therapy and exercise for treating non- specific neck pain: A systematic review. Journal of back and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, 30(6), 1149-1169.
5. Auvinen, J. P., Tammelin, T. H., Taimela, S. P., Zitting, P. J., Järvelin, M.-R.,Taanila, A. M., & Karppinen, J. I. (2010). Is insufficient quantity and quality of sleep a risk factor for neck, shoulder and low back pain? A longitudinal study among adolescents. European Spine Journal, 19(4), 641-649.
6. Carroll, L. J., Cassidy, J. D., & Côté, P. (2004). Depression as a risk factor for onset of an episode of troublesome neck and low back pain. PAIN, 107(1-2), 134-139.
7. Mansell, G., Corp, N., Wynne-Jones, G., Hill, J., Stynes, S., & van der Windt, D. (2021). Self-reported prognostic factors in adults reporting neck or low back pain: An umbrella review. Eur J Pain. doi:10.1002/ejp.1782