It seems as though everyone I teach carries tension in their necks. I personally experienced whiplash several years ago, and ever since that time my neck will bother me at times. Whether we have neck pain from an accident, sitting at a computer or how we move in our daily lives, neck pain is not fun. I want to give you a some tips to relax your neck during Pilates.
- In breathing at the beginning of your Pilates session try posterior-lateral breathing to help lift your head up and lengthen your spine. Inhale through the back of your ribs because this will help increase the natural curves of your spine.
- When cuing Ab Prep with my students, I tell them nod their chin (don’t tuck!) during the inhale and use their abdominals allowing the neck to “float” up verses overdoing it with the neck muscles. Another trick is to allow your head to be heavy on your mat and lift your mat with your hands under the top of your mat to pull you up, just to get the “feel” of allowing your neck to relax.
- Your shoulder blades are crucial. Many people wrap their shoulders around their ears leaving their head and neck jammed into their torso. Pull your shoulders down and you should feel your head grow longer. This will provide length for your upper spine, neck and head to lift up.
- Learn how to utilize your pelvic floor. It is the anchor for your spine, which is necessary when you life your neck. Without an activated pelvic floor, it’s impossible to get the ribs to lift away from the pelvis and the head away from the neck.
- The way you breathe is so important. I typically cue breathing through pursed lips, but there are times I like to use a long “Haaaaaaa” sound to release my jaw. I learned this through my yoga practice. This will help you release your neck and open your jaw.
It is important for you to SLOW DOWN. It’s sometimes a challenge when students are new to Pilates because they do not want to move slowly. It’s not what most people are used to doing. However, if we take time to learn the basics before jumping right into exercises with out necks up off the mat, our Pilates practice will be more enjoyable.
Healthy Please XOXO,