Pilates Shouldn’t Be a Pain in the Neck

Are you feeling neck strain during or after practicing Pilates? Then this is for you.

One of the hardest parts of starting out in Pilates is learning how to hold your head up without straining your neck. What’s frustrating is that until your abdominal muscles are strong enough to take the brunt of the work, your other muscles are going to try hard to help out—thus the strain in your neck. So my advice: don’t try to keep your head up just because others in the class are doing it. Listen to your body, and do what’s right for you. If you get enough of a strain, you’ll be unable to practice for a class or two, and that would be worse!

Try to lift your head each time you do Pilates, even just for a few exercises. Make sure to keep your focus on your thighs or abs—not the ceiling. That just adds to the strain. And when it’s too much, try these modifications:

  • Complete the exercises with your head down on the mat.
  • Put one or both hands behind your head for support, depending on the exercise and what your arms may need to be doing.
  • Bend your knees. This takes some pressure off your back, and may help alleviate some of the strain you are feeling.
  • A combination of any of the above, such as putting a hand behind your head and bending your knees.

With time and practice, it gets easier to hold your head up, I promise!