Pilates is a method of exercising that stretches, strengthen and balances the body in order to increase posture, balance and core strength. People who have injured their neck or experience neck pain can improve their neck strength and stretch the muscles around their neck by performing certain Pilates exercises.
Neck Roll and Chin Tuck
This exercise helps stretch your neck out. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your arms on your stomach. Relax your neck muscles and smile, letting your tongue widen at the base. Let your neck lengthen and pull your shoulder blades back until they reach the floor. Breath deeply and slowly roll your to the right, then the left. Repeat a few times to keep stretching.
This exercise helps increase strength throughout your spine, neck and your abdominal muscles. Lie face up on your back with your arms extended by your sides and your legs straight and flat on the floor. Inhale deeply and extend your arms and legs away from each other. Exhale and lift your arms to the ceiling, facing your palms forward. Lift your head, tuck your chin under and scoop your abdominal muscles in as you roll to a sitting position. Inhale deeply and extend your arms and upper body over your legs. Exhale again and roll down by rolling your spine down to the floor, pressing your spine into the floor one vertebra at a time and using your abdominals to keep you steady.
The Neck Pull
The neck-pull exercise is a more advanced version of the roll up. Similarly, it strengthens your spine, neck and abdominal muscles. However, this exercise is more difficult because your arms remain behind your neck instead of free to use to propel you up. Lie face up with your hands behind your head and your legs extended out and hip-width apart. Inhale while flexing your feet, pressing your heels into the mat. Exhale and scoop your abdominal muscles in as you roll up, pressing your lower back into the mat. Tuck your chin under and lift your head while rolling off the mat. Inhale deeply as you sit tall, then exhale as you scoop your stomach in and roll back down to the mat.
The swan-neck roll stretches your throat muscles and your spine. Lie face down on your stomach. Position your hands under your shoulders and press your upper body off the matt, keeping your elbows close to the sides of your body and pulling your shoulder blades down your back. Tilt your jaw out slightly. Inhale as you draw your abdominal muscles and roll your head, neck and back up. Lengthen your chin and look to your left, stretching your neck. Roll your chin down to your chest, then back up, rotating it in circles to stretch it. Roll your chin to the right and repeat rotating stretches. Exhale as you roll back down.