Ky Autumn Russell – Pilates, yoga, & relaxation

End Your Neck Pain in Side Planks

woman in side plank Pilates position

Do you regularly have pain in your neck or shoulders during side planks? Here's how you can fix that!

Way back when I was a young(ish) circus performer, I was very strong but also had a LOT of neck tension. Especially in side planks.

I was also a Pilates teacher and quite confused how an exercise that used to be tolerable had morphed into excruciating.

After many practice sessions with myself and others tweaking side planks I found a Harry Potter worthy magical elixir that can help almost everyone's side plank!

My top 3 strategies are listed below. AND the scoop on I why I went bald figuring this out.

These simple fixes to your technique could end your pain and actually make side planks enjoyable.

You can find all the ingredients for a enjoyable side plank in my latest YouTube video!

Side planks aren't necessarily for everyone. But they are an amazing way to target your core and deep abdominal stabilizers, without putting excess pressure on your spine.

They're also a great way to build bone density and help protect against bone loss that can occur in women as estrogen levels decline.

So how to put a smile on your face in a side plank?

Watch the video for more details and scroll down for some quick, simple tips to immediately improve your side planks too!



More Tips for Rocking Your Side Plank

For Wrist Pain:

- Lower to your elbow. This immediately takes pressure off your wrist and is recommended if you have a wrist injury like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Drawback - this won't strengthen your wrist bones, and wrist fractures are the most common fracture site in older adults!

For Shoulder Pain:

- Focus on connecting your armpit muscles. Pull your hand (or elbow) gently toward your hip, and push the floor away from you. This activates the muscles that support the shoulder and can eliminate shoulder distress.

For Neck Pain:

- Head position is key here! Many times well meaning teachers instruct to keep the head in line with the spine with eyes straight ahead. That's simply the way they were taught and frequently is the "correct" way for most folks.

However, it depends on how much stress you're carrying in your neck, how heavy your head is, and the specifics of your breathing. You may need to change your head alignment so your neck is supported.

 - Try rotating your head to look slightly down towards the floor, or even up to the ceiling. This will recruit different groups of neck stabilizing muscles and can eliminate your discomfort.


So here is how I ended up nearly bald. During my circus days I also had dreadlocks. Long dreadlocks that became incredibly heavy over time. They painfully pulled on my neck when I was doing my side planks with my head position in the "by the books" position.

These 3 tips (and more discussed in the video) helped me get out of neck pain in my side planks.  But I realized that my massive dreadlocks were causing me neck and shoulder tension in all other sorts of ways.

I had to say goodbye to the coolest hair I'll ever have because one of my personal mottos is "function over fashion."

I do believe that if I had figured out how to work with my heavy hair sooner, then I would have been able to keep them instead of chopping of all my hair!

So hopefully these tips will help you avoid any major hair overhauls and help you do an exercise that has all sorts of benefits for your bone mass and core strength!


If you're looking for more core connection and strengthening check out my Love Your Core video series - click here for Free access!


I'd love to hear if these tips improved your enjoyment of side planks, and if not let me know because I might have a few more tricks up my sleeve!

Much love friend!

-Ky

woman on Pilates Trapeze Table in Backbend

About your host, Ky

Hi, I'm Ky Russell! I'm committed to democratizing and sharing my knowledge of fitness and wellness accumulated over decades of study and teaching Pilates and mindful movement, stress management, and wellness. In addition to having a Master's degree in Kinesiology and teaching wellness as faculty at San Jose State University, I'm a busy working mom so all of my solutions are designed to integrate seamlessly integrate into your full life. I want you to move and love your body so you can live the life of your dreams!

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