Mend Physical Therapy Blog and Injury Information

How Many Times Should I Perform My Exercises To Relieve Neck Pain?

May 18, 2020


Neck pain remains one of the constants in life along with death, taxes, and low back pain. Thankfully, similar to low back pain, the vast majority of neck pain (although painful) is not serious in nature. Prior research has shown a Physical Therapy treatment program consisting of manual therapy and exercise helps accelerate a patient’s recovery compared to visiting their primary care physician or waiting for time to help reduce symptoms. Consistent with other body regions, manual therapy including mobilization and manipulation play a greater role in the short term while long term relief can best be found with strengthening exercises. A recent study highlights how little exercise is required for symptom relief.

Saeterbakken and colleagues examined the impact of a 8 week training program on patients with moderate neck and shoulder pain (BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2020). Authors randomized participants to either a 10 minute high intensity strength training program once or twice a day for 8 weeks. Each program consisted of two sets of 12-15 repetitions (weeks 1-4) progressed to 8-10 repetitions (weeks 5-8). As repetitions were reduced each exercise’s intensity was increased (ex. heavier band). The four exercises included a banded row, upright row, reverse fly, and lateral raise. Authors reported no differences between groups on strength, quality of life, or pain.

In our Physical Therapy practice, pain relieving and mobility exercises are often performed more frequently but with strength training exercises intensity remains the most important variable in a program for long term relief.

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