Having been involved in a series of car accidents from the age of 19 onwards (none of which were my fault, just for the record! ) I've experienced numerous whiplash injuries and understand first hand what it's like to have a vulnerable, painful neck. It can be quite debilitating and interfere with your quality of life. Chiropractic treatment had, in conjunction with Pilates, kept my neck pain well under control over the years until early 2009. My trusted Chiropractor went on leave and her replacement gave me an overzealous neck adjustment with such force that I thought my head was going to detach from my body. I saw stars and it was extremely painful. This was not at all what I was used to and as I drove home I knew I had a serious issue as I couldn't turn my head to change lanes without severe pain. It became worse the next day and I began to experience nausea too as I later learned the vagus nerve had been affected. This was the start of 7 to 8 months of neck pain. After one month of continuous pain, I was fortunate to find a talented Osteopath and I experienced a reduction in pain after the first treatment. I knew I was on the right track and was now able to completely focus on using Pilates movements to further strengthen and reinforce the Osteopathic treatments which I was gradually able to decrease in frequency. Eight months later the Osteopath confessed that when she started treating me, my neck injury was so severe that she didn't know if I would ever be pain-free. This is where Pilates came in and using myself as a guinea pig through a process of trial and error I was able to see which approach and exercises produced the best results.
My Neck Pain Pilates Plan - Start Small
This plan has worked successfully both for myself and many of my clients. Many of the traditional Pilates exercises require the head and shoulders to be lifted off the mat but this is something that you want to avoid until you have sufficiently recovered from neck pain or injury as this will exacerbate the problem.
Going back to basics is essential:
* Pilates Breathing - when we are in pain, our breathing tends to become shallow and high up in our chest. Pilates Breathing helps to get the breath down low into the abdomen and calms the nervous system.
* Add the Abdominal Connections using the breath and continue to both strengthen and connect with the core.
* Check your Glutes are Activated and address any imbalances and then continue to strengthen them.
* Nose Nods Series with the head on a ball or small pillow to activate the deep neck flexors and encourage the superficial neck muscles to let go.
* Rotator Cuff, upper body and upper back strengthening.
* Overstretching the Neck Should Be Avoided as it can destabilise, a weak neck. Stretching might feel good for a short period of time but you will usually find the neck muscles will tighten up in response each time and strengthening is the best approach for a long term solution.
Causes of Neck Pain
There are many causes of neck pain and its always best to have your GP diagnose the cause and type of neck pain you are experiencing and to make sure Pilates is suitable for your particular condition.
Other Factors to Consider
Neck pain can be worsened by a number of factors, so also check:
* your mattress is firm and supportive and that your pillow is the right height so your neck is aligned with your spine. Many of my clients have made changes to these over the years and improved their neck pain levels
*Check your posture, as maintaining good alignment in both sitting and standing can help to reduce neck pain, particularly when working at a computer.
* Avoid sitting in slouched positions on the couch in front of the TV. As comfortable as this may feel at the time, it does tend to worsen pain levels.
If you are dealing with acute or chronic neck pain, I truly empathise with you but with Pilates, there is a solution. Take the free 10 day trial on my site and all the tools are there to assist you to become pain-free. Let me know if you have any questions through the FAQ & CONTACT page on this site - I am here to guide you on your Pilates journey.
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