Improve Your Neck Pain With as Little as 2mins per day of Exercise

 In Back and Neck Pain

Improve Your Neck Pain With as Little as 2mins per day of Exercise

Many people suffer from neck pain. A lot of people sit at a desk for their job then have to go home and do more things that require leaning forward or lifting and straining their neck. In our time poor society, quite often these neck pain sufferers say they do not have time to do exercises that would assist their neck pain.

The good news is that research has shown that just 2 – 12 minutes of exercises per day can be beneficial in reducing neck pain and improving postural strength. I don’t think any neck pain sufferer can say that they don’t have 2 minutes in their day in which they can do some exercises.

Research has shown 2 – 12 mins of exercises daily can reduce #neckpain and improve postural strength #physio #neckpain Click To Tweet

Neck Pain Exercise Research Findings

A recent study looked at the comparison between a progressive exercise program of 2 minutes or 12 minutes. Participants used theraband to perform shoulder/postural muscle strengthening exercises. In the two minute group they performed as many repetitions of a lateral raise exercise as they could in the two minutes, and were challenged to beat their number of reps each day inside that two minute period. As time passed, the participants increased the strength of the band they were using to make the exercises harder. The 12 minute exercise group performed the same exercise but completed 5-6 sets of 8-12 reps of the exercise, again increasing their reps and band strength as time passed.

Findings: Both groups had improvements in neck and postural strength and both groups had decrease in tenderness of the muscles around the neck (1).

Another study looked at strength training of the neck and postural muscles using dumbells using the following exercises: 1-arm row, shoulder abduction, shoulder elevation, reverse flies, and upright row. Three of the exercises were chosen for each session, and three sets of up to 12 reps were performed.  The exercise program went for 20 minutes and was performed only three times per week, mixing up the choices of exercises each time. This training was compared with aerobic general fitness training and although both types of training helped neck pain, the specific strength training showed greater decreases in pain and improvements in muscle strength (2).

A meta-analysis looking at therapeutic exercise for non-specific neck pain found that exercise has significant short term and intermediate term effects on pain reduction (3).

Integrating The Research Into My Clinical Practice

As physiotherapists we believe in evidence based practice, we will not ask you to do something unless we know it is beneficial to you. When prescribing exercises, as physiotherapists we need to think about what the most beneficial exercises the client needs dependent on their pain and dysfunctions, and also what is realistic to fit into their day. If someone already goes to the gym five times a week, then it may be easy for us to find a few exercises to squeeze into your gym routine and presto, you are doing it five times a week.

Other people who are busy juggling many other things may find the thought of getting exercises to help their pain too overwhelming to fit in! These are the type of people we would find ways to sneak exercises into their day and it is great to know that just two minutes a day can be beneficial.

Theraband Neck Exercises

Here are some theraband exercises that will help your neck pain as well:

 1. chariot pull

 2. Theraband sequence

3. Single arm shrug

The Role of Clinical Pilates in Neck Pain Rehabilitation

Some people may benefit from Clinical Pilates for their neck pain. Clinical Pilates can be great for neck pain because you are scheduled into a class at a specific time, you have an individualized program specifically for your pain and you are supervised by a physiotherapist. Some commonly prescribed neck pain recovery clinical pilates exercises that may benefit your neck pain include: reformer chariot pulls, rowing, sideways arms, and long box swimming.

Emily George (APAM)

Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates Instructor


  1. Lars L. Andersen a,⇑ , Charlotte A. Saervoll a , Ole S. Mortensen a,b , Otto M. Poulsen a , Harald Hannerz a , Mette K. Zebis a Effectiveness of small daily amounts of progressive resistance training for frequent neck/shoulder pain: Randomised controlled trial (2011) PAIN 152 440–446
  2. Andersen LL, Kjaer M, Søgaard K, et al. Effect of two contrasting types of physical exercise on chronic neck muscle pain. 2008 Arthritis Rheum.;59:84 –91.
  3. Bertozzi L1,Gardenghi ITuroni FVillafañe JHCapra FGuccione AAPillastrini P.  Effect of therapeutic exercise on pain and disability in the management of chronic nonspecific neck pain: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. 2013  Phys Ther.  Aug;93(8):1026-36. doi: 10.2522/ptj.20120412.

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