After every chilly winter and unpredictable spring, we’re always rewarded with summer. It’s a season that brings with it all of our favorite things: longer days, t-shirt weather, vacations, and plenty of fun in the sun. However, because of all the changes to routine and increased activity, summer can also put you at risk of neck pain.
Fortunately, there’s a solution that allows you to enjoy the sultry weather without compromising on your comfort. Pilates has been proven to be an effective way to treat neck pain not just in summer but all year round and it can help you ease into summer worry-free.
What Causes Neck Pain in Summer?
In summer we spend more time outside doing various activities that can put a strain on our necks. Anything that involves sitting for long periods, looking up, or holding your head in a fixed position can have the unintended consequence of causing neck. It’s essential to always be aware of your posture, take regular breaks from physical activity, and incorporate stretches into your routine to minimize the risk of strain. These are just a few of the common summer activities that can cause neck pain:
- Sitting in the bleachers
- Amusement park rides
The Benefits of Pilates for Neck Pain Relief
Pilates is a whole-body exercise discipline that is low impact and focused on conditioning your body for movement. It’s suitable for people of all ages and experience levels, with stretches that can be done with or without the aid of equipment. Pilates is perfect for addressing neck pain because it promises a wide range of benefits, including:
- Strengthening your core. Your core muscles are the center of your posture, and by strengthening them, you stand a better chance of sitting or holding one position for long periods without risking neck pain.
- Improving flexibility. By improving your range of motion, you’ll be able to maneuver your neck freely without stiffness.
- Relieving tension. Neck stretches, spine twists, and other Pilates exercises are specifically aimed at releasing tension which, in turn, reduces pain.
- Promoting blood circulation. Healthy circulation to your neck muscles, limber and primed to recover faster from strain and injury.
Incorporating Pilates into Your Summer Routine
As with any type of exercise, you should start small and pace yourself when trying Pilates for the first time. Start with one or two exercises and scale up as you get stronger and more comfortable.
Here are a handful of stretches that have been tried and tested for neck pain.
Sit comfortably with your shoulders relaxed and your spine straight. Tilt your head to the right, bringing your right ear towards your right shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat on the left side. You can also do this exercise by tilting your head forward and backward.
Sit with your legs crossed and your spine straight. Place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on the floor behind you. Twist your spine to the left, looking over your left shoulder. Hold for a few seconds, then repeat on the other side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Roll your shoulders forward, then up towards your ears, then back and down. Repeat several times, then reverse the movement, rolling your shoulders back, up, forward, and down.
Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Inhale and arch your back, bringing your head up towards the ceiling. Exhale and round your spine, bringing your chin towards your chest.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides. Clasp your hands behind your back and gently lift your arms away from your body, stretching your chest and shoulders. Hold for a few seconds, then release.
While Pilates exercises can be done on your own, the outcomes are compounded with the help of a trained professional. At In Touch NYC Physical Therapy, we don’t just have Pilates instructors, but experts who can take a personalized approach to your care by addressing your neck pain and any other issues you may have. The goal is not to get you stronger for summer, but stronger for life.