How to avoid neck pain during your core exercises

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Many of us experience neck pain during or after exercise programs which target our Abdominals.

Aniela Amio

In this blog and my video, I want to share 5 tips that I have found help to avoid neck pain when you are strengthening your Core Transversus Abdominis.

1. Choose a comfortable neck posture before you start the exercise

Often the start position is not comfortable for our neck.  When you are lying on your back, the first thing to check is whether your chin is level and not poking up.  If you are uncomfortable or your neck is not in a good posture, then try using a small pillow or towel to relax your neck.  Always choose a position that feels right for you.

2. Breathe

Holding our breath often tenses the neck.  Make sure you are breathing throughout the entire exercise and never ever hold your breath while you are exercising. Calm breathing, easy breathing is an amazing way to release tension.

3. Check whether your neck muscles are tense

Many of us are not aware that our necks are tense.  We live with it all the time or just expect exercises to strain our neck.  The neck muscles should be relaxed during exercises where you head is on the mat.

To see if too much neck tension is your source of pain, I recommend placing your hands on your neck muscles.  Observe whether they tense or bulge as you start your core exercises.  If you are not using your neck muscles there will be no increased tension. Check it several times during the exercise as we tend to use our neck muscles harder as we get tired.

4. Use micromovements to release tension.

Awareness and breathing go a long way to helping you release your neck tension however if you need more then try adding in gentle neck movements during the exercise.  Small nodding or side to side motions can help your neck relax and often increases the work that your abdominals provide.

5. Make sure your exercise is not too hard.

If you can’t get rid of the tension, or still find your neck is uncomfortable or painful after exercise, you may need to go to an easier level of core.  Decreasing the demand will help you to focus on the technique and learn how to do the exercise with a relaxed neck.  As you improve you can increase the demand, without neck pain!

I hope these tips help you to get more core strength with less neck discomfort however if you need more advice then come see me or the physiotherapists at The Orthopaedic Therapy Clinic to learn how to exercise without hurting your neck.  Contact us at or 416-925-4687.

This service pro­vides gen­eral infor­ma­tion and dis­cus­sion about therapy, health and related sub­jects. It is not meant to replace advice and/or treatment from your health care professional.