Pilates for Neck Pain

Ann Samoilov Reviews My Pilates for Neck Pain Audio


In case you think Twitter is useless, here is a great testimonial from my Twitter friend Anne Samoilov

Lynda Lippin's Neck Pain Pilates Audio leads you very clearly through key fundamental exercises which has relieved several of my clients recurring neck and shoulder pain. I have even used it myself, since I'm a new mom. I spent more than a year bent forward watching my daughter breastfeed. My neck was always in pain--even after I stopped breastfeeding. I'm a pilates instructor and her audio guide put me through my paces. Within a few days of doing the fundamental exercises, my neck pain is gone. I highly recommend getting this audio guide - it works, even if you have prior experience with pilates. Lynda has provides the listener with the exact cues that work. She is easy to understand and her voice even has the added benefit of relaxing you as your doing the routine. I highly recommend the audio guide!

Download the Pilates for Back and Shoulder Pain Audio $20

Herniated Cervical Discs & Pilates

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Here is a recent question I received regarding doing Pilates with herniated cervical (neck) discs.


I have two herniated discs on my neck and I have been doing pilates for a while at the gym club. But my doctor told me that it may cause problems even if he wasn't sure what pilates was. It really helps me to gain my strength. But sometimes I feel pain in my lower back. What should I do?

Thanks for your response,


Hi Naciye

If your neck is feeling OK with the Pilates you're doing you should be fine. Just be sure to avoid movements where there is weight on your neck (roll-over, jacknife) and watch that when you do any rolling exercises you don't roll back so far that all of your weight is in your neck.

Now, the pain in your lower back is most likely due to tucking your pelvis back and flattening your lower back during much of your routine. You want to try to keep the spine lengthened from your head all the way to your tailbone and NOT force your lower back flat to the mat. Your teacher should be able to help you there.

Let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

I do recommend that if you have only taken group Pilates classes you should really try at least one private session with a teacher familiar with cervical disc herniations. It can hep you find better form.



Pilates with Cervical Disc Herniations

Dear Lynda, I have been a pilates instructor for 4 years. I have a client: 34 yr old Female 2 cervical disc hernias at age 18 ex gymnast works in an office swims once a week flexible weak muscles (especially in arms)

She wants her body back in shape.

She has some tingling in her hands and sometimes gets dizzy.

She wants to do group lessons because of the hours and cost.

I started her out on the Trap table doing Pre Pilates exercises: Breathing exercises Neutral spine w/disassociation exercises Shoulder girdle stabilization

Basic Reformer routine: Foot Work Frog Leg Circles Short Box Series: Round Back Twist Side bends Knee Stretch Stomach Massage Seated Long box Arms Basic Rowing Back

My questions are:

What exercises should I NOT DO with her(obviously no full short spine / bottom lift / shoulder bridge ect. that might put pressure on her neck)?

Are there any specific exercises that would help?

Would neck mobilization help or could it possibly worsen the situation?

Thanks, Michelle

Dear Michelle,

First, have you seen her since the first session? How did she feel? That will give you some basis on which to proceed. Any pain or numbness lasting longer than one day is a problem.

Second, NO NECK MOBILIZATION! Think about it--she's hypermobile already with weak enough intervertebral muscles to cause weakness in the cervical spine. Plus you mention that she is weak and flexible, which is not good.

Third, looking at the first session almost everything you give her is in forward spinal flexion. She needs some work in extension and side lying and maybe some supine arm work. Bridging and bottom lift are not necessarily bad if she doesn't go all the way up to her neck.

I would avoid weight bearing on arms right now (no knee stretches) and too much flexion (stomach massage and back rowing is too much). And you are right about avoiding weight bearing on neck in things like short spine, long spine, etc.

So for extension--basic prone straight leg lifts, single leg kick with head down, swimming, beginning swan, flight (extension with arms at sides). Side lying--side kicks, magic circle work.

On the reformer you could do supine arm presses and circles with legs in tabletop position, very light prone pull straps, seated chest expansion (light springs).

She is bound to be tight in the chest/front of shoulders her mid back/lower ribcage, and in her hip flexors. So you need to help her stretch these while strengthening the complementary muscles (triceps, back of shoulder blades, obliques and abs, pelvic floor, gluteals, leg abductors, inner thighs, hamstrings.

Has she been cleared by her doctor to exercise?

Feel free to ask more questions!



Rehab Pilates

Yesterday I taught a Rehab Pilates session to a Japanese journalist who told me that Rehab exercise and Pilates were not linked in Japanese culture. You go to a Pilates teacher for exercise, and a physician for any kind of Rehab exercises.

Now this is appropriate in acute injury cases, but when you are dealing with imbalances from an injury 20 years ago that still cause problems the physician usually shrugs her shoulders. This is where a Rehab-focused Pilates session can come in handy.

In a 60-90 minute session I can assess the imbalances and offer an exercise program to help strengthen what is weak and stretch what is tight, leading to better muscle balance and function. Email me for more information.

Lifting Your Head in Pilates

A lot of the Pilates mat exercises are performed with the head up and this is a problem for many people. If you do not curl your head up properly in conjunction with your cervical spine and ribcage, your neck will hurt and impede you from completing the exercises. Follow the instructions here and you'll have an easier time.

Pilates, MS, Neck Pain

Hi Lynda,

I am 46 y.o. woman with kyphosis and scoliosis for many years. Never have really done something about it. Recently I have been diagnosed with MS, mitral valve prolapse, carpal tunnel syndrome. I must also add that I have anemia since childhood and I am in menopause since 38 y.o. I had a pregnancy at my 35 and my daughter has been born when I was 36. The indication to send me to the doctor's were strong vertigo that completely threw me down. I do Pilates (BASI) for 6 months now and have seen a lot of improvement. However, sometimes during workout (when I try to maintain my position in abdominals and/or roll ups and leg stretch), I feel like my head is going to explode. What can I change to avoid that? It makes me stop the exercise and really don't want to start over.

Thanks in advance,


Dear Sophia,

Your story is so inspiring! Congratulations on finding Pilates and following an exercise path which will help you tremendously going forward.

Regarding your neck/head tension, it doesn't surprise me at all that head up positions hurt you with your history of kyphosis and MS. I suggest avoiding the position all together, using pillows or towels when needed, and work instead on stretching your chest and shoulders in extension.

Let me know if you have more questions.



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