Is Strengthening and Exercise Effective For Neck Pain?

The included systematic review gathered data from published articles that studied the effectiveness of exercise for decreasing neck pain and whiplash-associated disorders. They looked through 4761 different articles from 2000-2013, using certain criteria to distinguish acceptable articles from unacceptable ones. The studies included different forms of strengthening and exercising all designed to increase strength in the cervical spine while decreasing pain. The different exercises included qigong, Iyengar yoga, and combined programs including strengthening, range of motion, and flexibility. The results showed a significant improvement in neck pain indexes from supervised exercises, but could not distinguish a difference between the exercises themselves.

This is applicable to the work we do at the clinic because it emphasizes exactly what we preach every day. Strengthening is an important aspect in the road to recovery in that it not only aids in decreasing pain, but also helps to prevent future injury. We approach injuries with an integrative format, combining chiropractic care, physical therapy, and massage therapy to reduce pain, increase range of motion and strengthen target areas.

Spine J. 2014 Feb 14. pii: S1529-9430(14)00210-1. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2014.02.014. [Epub ahead of print]

Is exercise effective for the management of neck pain and associated disorders or whiplash-associated disorders? A systematic review by the Ontario Protocol for Traffic Injury Management (OPTIMa) Collaboration.

Southerst Bsch D1, Nordin M2, Côté P3, Shearer H4, Varatharajan S5, Yu H5, Wong JJ5, Sutton D5,


Outcomes of interest included: 1) self-rated recovery; 2) functional recovery; 3) pain intensity; 4) health-related quality of life; 5) psychological outcomes; and/or 6) adverse events.


We found evidence that supervised qigong, Iyengar yoga, and combined programs including strengthening, range of motion, and flexibility are effective for the management of persistent neck pain. We did not find evidence that one supervised exercise program is superior to another. Overall, most studies reported small effect sizes suggesting that a small clinical effect can be expected with the use of exercise alone. PubMed.