Strength Training Exercises Can Improve Neck Pain

Weekly Exercises Improved Pain in Women

The human neck is an amazing thing, if you think about it. Your neck can move freely in multiple directions, all while supporting an object (your head) weighing 15 or more pounds. With all its movement and complexity, it’s no wonder that neck pain can be so prevalent. But, the good news is that there are several neck pain treatments and exercises you can do to help relieve neck pain. For women especially, strength-training exercises targeting your neck can go a long way in improving severe neck pain.

Neck pain exercise used in the treatment and prevention of neck painKeep neck pain at bay by incorporating strength-training exercises into your routine. Before beginning, though, be sure to consult with your doctor regarding any new exercise plans.

In a recent study from Denmark, researchers examined the effectiveness of strength training as a way to relieve neck pain in women. Specifically, researchers investigated whether there was a direct relation between pain reduction and how strictly study participants adhered to the training regimen. The study, titled “Dose-response of strengthening exercise for treatment of severe neck pain in women,” was published online in March 2013 in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

How the Study Was Conducted

The investigators examined 118 women who were experiencing severe neck pain and who previously didn’t do any strength training. The women were divided into 2 groups: 1 control group and 1 group that required 20 weeks of targeted strength training for the neck and shoulders.

Everyone in the study had to report how much pain they felt on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain ever felt.

Investigators kept track of whether the women who were doing the strength training were following the instructions given—for example, how often to exercise, which exercises to do, and how many sets to do. This was called “training adherence,” and it was classified as low, medium, or high.

What the Researchers Found

Women who did strength training and followed the procedures according to instructions felt less neck pain than those who either didn’t do any training or didn’t adhere to the program. For the women who did strength training and adhered to the instructions, they reported a 70% reduction in pain.

Even those study participants who were considered to have “medium adherence” to the strength training program still felt more pain relief than those who didn’t do any strength training or who had “low adherence.”

What This Study Means for You

The results of this study suggest that weekly strength training can help relieve your severe neck pain. But you don’t have to start training every day to see a benefit. Over time, incorporating strength training into 1 to 2 work outs each week could be enough to reduce neck pain intensity in women.

There are several kinds of exercises available to help alleviate and prevent neck pain. Flip through our slideshow on exercises for preventing neck pain, which highlights 4 simple stretches that are even easy enough to do at your desk at work. They include a chin tuck, side bend, side-to-side head rotation, and neck roll. However, before starting any exercises or stretches, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure they’re appropriate for your condition.

Strength training does not have to be time consuming, and being able to do a few simple exercises at your desk during the workday may go a long way in relieving your severe neck pain.

For more information about other neck pain relief options to discuss with your doctor (non-surgical as well as surgical), be sure to check out our overview of neck pain treatments.

Updated on: 04/08/13