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Neck pain is a relatively common complaint. It affects up to 70% of individuals in their lifetime. International statistics show that around 10-15% of the population has neck pain at any given time. No age group or occupation appears immune and neck pain is second only to low back pain in annual workers compensation costs in Australia. Neck pain tends to be a persistent and recurrent disorder and up to 60% of persons can expect some degree of ongoing pain for many years after their first episode. The pain intensity can range from mild to severe.

Many treatments for neck pain have been found to be ineffective for relieving acute neck pain but Pilates combined with Physiotherapy has been found to be one of the most effective treatments for acute neck pain.


There are several principles that underlie the Pilates  approach to neck pain:


  • Clinical Pilates commences early in the 
rehabilitation process, usually within the patient’s initial 
  • Pilates should not provoke neck pain
  • Pilates exercises are designed to address the specific changes 
identified in the muscle system and in sensorimotor function
  • Muscles are trained specifically and within a functional and task-specific context
  • Repetition is essential in the learning process to establish or re-establish appropriate movement and muscle control
  • Patients must understand the rationale underpinning the various components and phases of the exercise approach. Their contribution to, and compliance with, the Pilates program is critical to the learning process.

These principles are derived from the evidence of the rapidity of onset of changes in sensorimotor function, the changes in muscle activity in response to pain, the specific changes in the muscles’ properties in association with neck pain, as well as the evidence for specificity in exercise to address the often complex and various impairments that may be present in a patient’s presenting disorder.


Neck pain


The exercise program described is a staged program, which progresses through three basic phases


Stage 1:The first phase of the exercise program, as indicated, aims to activate and train the deep cervical and axioscapular muscles with precise exercises and to integrate their actions into their functional supporting role in an upright posture. Low-load endurance exercises are introduced to train the deep muscles in line with their functional supporting role. Stage 1 focuses on motor learning and specificity of exercise to address the impaired muscle function in those with neck pain.

Stage 2:The exercise program in stage 2 continues to have a focus on motor learning but also begins to add load in both the formal and functional exercises of this stage.

Stage 3: This phase focuses on strength and endurance training. This phase should be approached with some caution from both muscle control and symptom perspectives.


How we can help


An appropriate well-constructed exercise program is mandatory in the rehabilitation of patients with cervical disorders to assist optimal recovery as well as attempt to intervene into the transition to recurrent or chronic pain.

Clinical Pilates addresses all 3 stages of the rehabilitation exercises. Pilates principles focus on posture and body awareness so clients are able to go from rehab phase into maintenance using the same exercises.

The Body Refinery, offers physiotherapist who are highly trained in manual therapy as well as clinical Pilates making the environment ideal to manage clients with acute and chronic neck pain and whiplash related disorders.

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Book an appointment with a Physiotherapist today on 07 3358 3915 or at

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