Strength & Conditioning for the management of chronic neck pain

Neck pain is something we all experience at some point in our lives. The most common cause is the overuse or misuse of muscles and ligaments. The modern workplace or method is dominated by the use of computers, this is especially tough on the muscles of the neck because of the long periods with shoulders slumped and heads extended toward the monitor.

Considerable study has been devoted to the treatment of chronic neck pain. Common interventions include medication, chiropractic manipulation, electrical nerve stimulation, massage, and various forms of exercise. Results so far have been inconsistent and difficult to compare, and the quality of research has been uneven. Still, there’s mounting evidence that certain exercises designed to strengthen neck muscles can help break longstanding cycles of neck pain.

A randomized trial has found that women with work-related neck pain experienced significant and long-lasting relief by regularly practicing five specific neck muscle–strengthening exercises. General fitness workouts, by contrast, reduced the pain only slightly. Results were published in the January 2008 issue of Arthritis Care and Research.

The Study

Danish scientists at the National Research Center for the Working Environment in Copenhagen recruited women engaged in repetitive work, mostly at computer keyboards, at banks, post offices, administrative offices, and an industrial facility. All complained of neck pain lasting more than a month during the previous year. They were eligible for the study if physical examinations showed they had trapezius myalgia, chronic pain and tightness in the muscles that run down the back of the neck and fan out toward the shoulders.

Participants were divided randomly into three groups. One group received strength training focused on neck and shoulder muscles. The second group received general fitness training, which consisted of riding an exercise bike without holding onto the handlebars. The third group was given only health counseling. The two exercise groups worked out for 20 minutes three times a week for 10 weeks.

The women rated pain intensity in the trapezius muscles immediately before and immediately after each training session and two hours after each workout. The strength training group experienced a 75% decrease in pain, on average, during the intervention as well as during a 10-week follow-up period involving no workouts.

General fitness training resulted in only a short-term decrease in pain that was too small to be considered clinically important, although the researchers did suggest that even a little reduction in pain severity could encourage people to give exercise a try. There was no improvement in the health counseling group.


This study isn’t the final word on relieving chronic neck pain. The number of participants (48) was small, and most of the women were under age 60. The results may not apply to women who are older or have conditions that limit their ability to strength train.
Still, the findings suggest that performing specific muscle-strengthening exercises may be a helpful strategy for many women with chronic neck pain. (The researchers have investigated the effectiveness of each exercise with electromyography, which measures muscle-generated electrical activity. Results will be published in the journal Physical Therapy.)

The Strength & Conditioning Program For Managing Chronic Neck Pain

The strength & conditioning program for managing chronic neck pain is an advancement in the training used in the Danish study which consisted of only five exercises that involved the use of hand weights to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles, to include stretches and conditioning exercises to eliminate pain and weakness in the form and function of the neck.

This is a 10 week program with a certified personal trainer. Sessions are held three times per week, at 30 minutes per session. In a typical session participants perform three to six different strength exercises, doing three sets of eight to 12 repetitions (each set lasting 25 to 35 seconds) for each exercise. The exercises change from session to session, progressing in intensity from week to week. Your personal trainer will gradually increase your weight load, roughly doubling in 10 weeks.

This is an intensive program and participants are carefully supervised by a Certified Personal Trainer. As your personal trainer, I highly recommend that before you embark on a similar program you book a consult with me, an exercise specialist who can help design a program for your needs and make sure that you’re doing the exercises correctly.

I also cannot stress the importance of consulting with your doctor or healthcare provider before you embark on a new exercise regiment. As your personal trainer all programs I offer require you to undergo a physical activity readiness questioner as your health and safety needs precede all aesthetic goals.

Tiger Athletic is a modern, private, appointment-only gym in Sandton, Johannesburg using a rigorous, results-focused methodology we are passionate about helping you be the healthiest version of yourself, so you can lead a more fulfilling personal and professional life.

Our sessions are strictly 1 on 1 just you and your trainer. There is nobody else in the gym and all equipment used is sanitized at the end of each session for the safety of all my clients.

Let’s Workout.


Tiger Athletic: Corrective Exercise To Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

Corrective exercise is often overlooked as a tool by personal trainers and fitness professionals to help clients reach their goals for the simple reason that most trainers aren’t qualified to deliver at this specialized level. It’s not glamorous like HIIT workouts or powerlifting as it requires an in-depth knowledge of anatomy and physiology, however, Tiger Athletic: Corrective Exercise To Help You Reach Your Fitness Goals

There are many reasons we make corrective exercises a part of each client’s training routine:

  • Pain relief,
  • Greater mobility,
  • Injury prevention,
  • And injury recovery.

These are all important, and what most people think about when considering corrective exercise, but what many trainers don’t realize is that corrective work isn’t just for people already in pain or suffering an injury.
Corrective exercise is also great for improving athletic performance and getting to fitness goals faster. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of corrective exercise and why I implement it with all of my clients.

What is Corrective Exercise?

Corrective exercise is very much like how it sounds. It is any type of exercise that helps correct some faulty movement or positioning in the body that contributes to or causes pain, injury, or other dysfunction. If you are not moving correctly or have poor form, I can use corrective exercises to modify and fix it.
The overreaching goal of corrective exercises is to improve movements and positioning of the body to improve both athletic performance and everyday life. As your personal trainer and a practitioner of corrective exercise, I identify poor patterns in movement and look for the underlying causes. With an understanding of this, I can then determine the simplest exercise that will correct them.
The actual corrective exercises you might use to help you are numerous and vary depending on individual needs. Some examples and types of exercises used for correction include:

  • Foam rolling for stretching and myofascial release.
  • Corrective breathing exercises to promote optimal motor learning.
  • Structural alignments for trunk stability, such as exercises to align the pelvis and trunk stability rolls.
  • Postural stability holds.
  • Hardstyle plank to activate multiple muscles, including those that are underactive.
  • Reverse lunges with a band to take pressure off knees and strengthen muscles for lower back pain relief.
  • Exercises to correct hip hinge posture.
  • Postural stability holds with head movements to correct shoulder and arm dysfunctions.
  • Activating the posterior tibialis for correcting foot alignment.
  • Exercises to correct posture and form while standing and sitting at a desk.

These are just a few examples of the many different corrective exercises I use with clients to improve form and movement and to develop fitness while relieving pain and preventing injuries.

Beyond How Corrective Exercise Helps Clients Reach Fitness Goals – Quality of Life

As a personal trainer, my responsibility to clients goes beyond hitting fitness goals. Fitness is important, of course, but correct movements, reduced chronic pain, and fewer injuries are other factors I help clients improve. Using corrective exercises to work on these allows me to help my clients enjoy an overall better quality of life.

Relieving Pain

Many of the aches and pains of daily life can be attributed to tight muscles, movement dysfunctions, and similar issues. A sore lower back may be related to weakness in core muscles, while neck pain can be caused by poor posture, for example. I assess my client to figure out what kind of dysfunction is causing the pain, then select a few targeted, regular exercises that can fix it.

Restoring Mobility

Chronic pain, motor dysfunction, tight joints, and other similar issues that correction can address often restrict mobility. Pain and mobility especially go hand-in-hand. If you can correct one, you can fix both. Corrective exercise has the potential to allow my client to move more freely.

For instance, when I have an older client who is finding functional movements more difficult, strengthening key muscles can make everything from getting into the car to lifting groceries easier and less painful greatly improving their quality of life.

Recovering From and Preventing Injury

Injuries hold us back in so many ways. Even for non-athletes, being injured means being sidelined from life. A good corrective exercise program can prevent injuries by fixing dysfunctions of movement. A well-designed program can also help a client recover more quickly from an injury by balancing muscle strength and improving joint movements.

The Benefits of Corrective Exercise for Fitness

A corrective exercise program that is targeted to an individual client’s needs, deficiencies, and goals can help improve their overall fitness. It can also improve specific areas of fitness and help them reach their goals more quickly, whether the goal is to be able to work out with less pain or to run a marathon.

How Corrective Exercise Helps Clients Reach Fitness Goals by Improving Efficiency

One of the simplest strategies I can implement corrective exercises with my clients is by fixing how they perform specific training moves. For instance, if I have a client who cannot complete a lunge without bringing their front knee past their toes, it’s fairly easy to correct.
I show the client the right form and have them practice the move keeping the knee in the right position. With time and focus and they will correct it and be able to do lunges correctly and get all the strength benefits from them.
This kind of corrective exercise work is usually the first thing I try. If poor form continues, there may be an underlying issue that will require other corrective moves, such as stretches, foam rolling, or the strengthening of specific muscles.
But, it’s ideal when my corrections of form improve how you perform actual exercises this, in turn, improves your strength, flexibility, power, or conditioning. I train my client more efficiently by not taking time away from these important exercises or spending more time than is needed on stretches and other corrective moves. With more focus on actual workouts and more effective movements, my clients reach fitness goals more quickly and efficiently.

Corrective Exercises Gets Clients off the Bench

Clients suffering from injuries need corrective work to get them back into the game sooner. My clients cannot meet their goals if they are unable to work out or practice due to an injury. The quicker I can get them back to normal functioning with corrective exercises, the closer they will be to achieving those fitness goals.
For some clients, a fitness goal is simply being able to be active without pain. That pain may come from an old injury, or it may come from muscle imbalances and dysfunctional movements. In any case, I can help them meet that goal using corrective exercises to relieve pain and improve mobility.

Preventing Injuries in the First Place

It’s not possible to prevent all injuries or to assure my clients that if they follow my program they won’t get hurt. However, with corrective exercise work, it is possible to reduce the risk of injuries. This is because the work I do will make your body more durable, more able to withstand the wear and tear of daily life, sports participation, and accidents.
I can do this for my clients by working on strategic areas of corrective exercise: strengthening key muscles and those that are comparably weak, strengthening joints, increasing joint and muscle flexibility, improving mobility, and improving the ability to activate and control muscles and body movements.

Improving Performance

Anyone, from athletes to newbies in the gym, can improve their athletic performance. Whether it’s Super Rugby Athlete or a weekend warrior I’m coaching to a new goal or new runner looking to do a sub-30 minute 5k, everyone can improve.
Corrective exercises help improve performance in several ways. They can be used to strengthen weaker, underutilized muscles; they can improve poor motor control in specific types of movements, and they can relieve stiffness in joints and increase range of motion.
Depending on my client’s sport and individual goals, I choose the right exercises to correct what holds them back from peak performance.

Who Can Benefit from Corrective Exercise?

All of my clients benefit from corrective exercise. The way most of us live our modern lives is a recipe for functional movement disaster. We spend hours at a desk or hunched over a smartphone. Then, many of us jump into action doing some pretty extreme sports, like CrossFit and powerlifting.
The sedentary lifestyle with poor posture alone is enough for most of us to be able to benefit from corrective exercise. But this, combined with extreme exercise sessions, means everyone will see improvements in movement, pain, injury, performance, and fitness goals.

Bad Posture

Inactivity is one of the leading risk factors for poor overall health. But what makes modern sedentary lifestyles even more damaging is the fact that we tend to combine inactivity with very poor posture. Many people spend hours a day with computers or devices, shoulders anteriorly rotated, spine rounded, and head tipped forward, putting tremendous pressure on the neck, shoulders, and spine.

Explosive Physical Activity, Followed by Inactivity

Another modern phenomenon is that many of us spend an hour or so per day engaged in explosive athletic activities. High-intensity workouts are popular, so many of us go from sitting with poor posture for hours on end to engaging in these complex movements for which our bodies are not really prepared.

The meeting point of inactivity, poor posture, and intense workouts leads to a high degree of movement dysfunction. But, of course, as your trainer, I know that this can be fixed. Anyone can benefit from some type of corrective exercise to improve posture during inactive hours and form when working out.

Using corrective exercises to help your clients is a skill developed training and coaching for two decades. Basic form adjustments are within the wheelhouse of most certified trainers. But to really delve into helping clients move better to perfect form, prevent injuries, reduce pain, and perform better athletically, you need a corrective exercise specialist.

Some clients in certain situations will need a doctor or physical therapist. Trainers, unfortunately, cannot fix everything. As your personal trainer, I always recommend that you engage with your primary healthcare provider before engaging in any new form of exercise.

You’ll want to go for steady progress over time and to make lifestyle changes that work for you for the long run. That way you can start losing weight and feel better.

Tiger Athletic is a modern, private, appointment-only gym in Sandton, Johannesburg using a rigorous, results-focused methodology we are passionate about helping you be the healthiest version of yourself, so you can lead a more fulfilling personal and professional life.

Our sessions are strictly 1 on 1 just you and your trainer. There is nobody else in the gym and all equipment used is sanitized at the end of each session for the safety of all my clients.

Gym After Gastric Sleeve Surgery: Timeline, Workout Plan & Options You Can Follow.

Congratulations on taking a massive step towards regaining control over your health. Now that you’ve had gastric surgery, you’ll probably be chomping at the bit, wanting to start working out so you can really start shedding weight. One question you might be asking yourself, ” When can I get back to the gym after gastric sleeve surgery and start exercising again?

An awesome question with a simple and straightforward answer, you just need to get the timing right. Often, your healthcare practitioner will tell you, to start exercising in some capacity before your surgery to help get yourself ready, as well as try and establish the habit of exercise that you will need to have post-op.

For our post-op programs at Tiger Athletic, we follow guidelines from, The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS) which recommends mild exercise (including cardiovascular exercise and light resistance training) 20 min/day 3–4 days/week before having your surgery, to improve cardiovascular fitness, reduce the risk of surgical complications, promote healing and enhance postoperative recovery.

Our personal trainer-led programs will help you establish this habit before surgery which will make it much easier to get back into your regular workout routine once your surgery has been completed and you have been given the go-ahead to start exercising again by your surgeon.

How long should I wait before going back to the gym after bariatric surgery?

As your personal trainer, I cannot stress how important it is important to understand that after your surgery, you will need to be careful not to overdo it with exercising or perform any exercises that could be damaging to your incision as this will cause more harm than good.

It’s a general rule of thumb that you wait at least 1-2 weeks before starting to exercise, which will just be walking.

For the first 6-8 weeks, you will want to stick to just walking to allow your body to recover and heal properly as well as help you get used to your new changing body.

We offer a free resource, Get moving by joining the Tiger Athletic 10 000 steps per day challenge

Timeline for exercise after bariatric surgery

1 Month

Light walking starts at 10 minutes per day and working your way up to 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. If you find it difficult to walk for long durations at one time, you can split it up into 2-3 sessions throughout the day totaling 30 minutes. If you need guidance, support, or just a hand, join the Tiger Athletic 10000 Steps A Day Challenge.

2 – 3 Months

Once your body has adapted to walking and you have worked up to 150 minutes a week, you can start to add in some more variety. If you go to a gym you can try some different types of cardio machines like the elliptical or stationary bike.
You can also start aqua aerobics (as long as your incision is completely healed). This is especially great because you can work the whole body while also keeping the stress off your joints.

4 – 6 Months

This is where you can start to add resistance training (weights) to your weekly routine. Always start with light weights and lower volume and then progressively work your way up as your tolerance increases.
It should be noted that exercises that require more experience can be more difficult since you are still getting used to your changing body and rapid weight loss.This can affect balance and coordination which will make it more difficult to perform these exercises. Please use caution or avoid these during this period.

6 – 12 Months

You should now be able to perform both cardiovascular and strength training regularly without issue. You still want to be mindful and make sure you aren’t doing anything that your body can’t handle but you can absolutely start pushing yourself harder.

12+ Months

As your personal trainer, one-year post-op, I’ll start increasing the intensity and frequency of which you work out. Also, I’ll start adding core/abdominal exercises to your routine as long as your surgeon or exercise physiologist gives you the go-ahead, to avoid doing any damage to the incision site and possibly causing any hernias near or at the incision.

Please note that immediately after surgery, your body is going to rapidly change while also trying to heal from the procedure, so as your personal trainer, I have to make sure you are not overdoing it. Making sure, that you start out very light, and then you can increase the intensity over time, once you have had time to heal and allow your body to adapt.

Example of Walking Progression

Week 1: Monday – Friday Walk 5-10 minutes 2-3x day Week 2: Monday – Friday Walk 10-15 minutes 2-3x day Week 3: Monday – Sunday Walk 15 minutes 2x day Week 4: Monday – Sunday Walk 30 minutes 1x day

The importance of exercise after surgery

Exercising after bariatric surgery will not only improve your quality of life but will also help you reach and/or maintain your weight loss goals quicker and more efficiently.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect to see from exercising post-op:

  • Increased cardiovascular endurance
  • Healthier heart
  • Decrease body fat
  • Increase lean body mass (muscle)
  • Increased mood
  • Decrease chances of disease and illness

Tiger Athletic is a private sport and rehabilitation practice in Sandton, Johannesburg. We offer personalized 1 on 1 fitness programs with a highly qualified and motivated personal trainer.

The following are just a few examples of the options we offer, they have also been set out as a free resource to guide or help people who may be on the fence or unable to train at Tiger Athletic. but you can see that exercise has wonderful benefits and will absolutely help you in the long run!

Real exercise plans you can start today

Walking (starting 2 weeks after surgery)

  • Walk 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per day (30 minutes total) or you can walk the entire 30 minutes at one time
  • Start with 5 days a week and work up to 150 minutes per week
  • Walking is a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and you can do it anywhere

Resistance Training (4 to 6 months after surgery)

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends the following as general guidelines

  • Exercising 2-3 days per week (Non-consecutive)
  • Performing 8-10 total exercises per workout
  • Completing 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps per exercise
  • 30-60 seconds of rest between exercises

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

Pick one exercise per body part and perform 2-3 sets of 8-12 reps


  • Bodyweight squat – 2 x 8-12
  • Incline pushup – 2 x 8-12
  • Cable low row – 2 x 8-12
  • Standing dumbbell shoulder press – 2 x 8-12
  • Standing dumbbell curl – 2 x 8-12
  • Dumbbell triceps kickbacks – 2 x 8-12
  • Machine seated hamstring curl – 2 x 8-12

This is just an example but it is important to note that each body part is being worked in this workout. If you feel one of these exercises doesn’t work for you and think that you can’t do it, try your best to find a good substitute.

You could do this exact workout right now and use it for the next 12 weeks before you need to change any exercises. Yoga Yoga is an ancient practice that uses breathing techniques, balance, and focus to achieve health and happiness. Incorporating this into your weekly routine could be a great idea.

  • Join a yoga class or find a good yoga video online and do this 1-2 times per week
  • You can always work up to more days

This will help with balance, flexibility, and core strength. People also find yoga to be a good way to clear their minds while also being able to engage in physical activity. Dancing/Zumba Zumba combines dancing/rhythm and movement with exercise to help elevate heart rate and improve cardiovascular fitness. Consider doing a Zumba class as part of your cardo one day and see how you like it.

  • Join a Zumba class or find a good video online and do this 1-2 times per week
  • You can always work up to more days

One thing that seems to really appeal to people when it comes to Zumba is that it usually involves being a part of a class where you are with other similar people who can use each other as motivation and accountability.

Important Nuggets

Make sure to always get clearance from your surgeon before starting any kind of exercise program. They are best suited to know when it will be best for you to begin. You want to always start with lower intensity and gradually work your way up as your body adjusts to the new lifestyle and rapid weight loss. This will help you avoid injury and other issues that can come with pushing too hard too soon. Your Tiger Athletic personal trainer conducts a continuous assessment to effectively manage both your safety and the effectiveness of your training program.

No matter what, make sure you are doing some kind of physical activity. This will play a huge role in your long-term success as well as your overall health. Some people believe that it has to be all or nothing, and that is not the case, and as your personal trainer, ill be able to show you how with lifestyle tips, recipes, nutritional advice, and motivation.

If it takes you a little longer to get into a routine or habit of exercise, that is perfectly fine. Just make sure that you are always looking to improve and never let yourself give up! As your personal trainer, I’d like you to know that I fully understand if somedays you feel less motivated than others to work out, especially in the beginning 12 weeks, we call this time, ‘the resistance phase’, so named because of what your mind has set out to achieve and how your body may be feeling may be incongruous. It takes time for thought and physical action to be on the same page, relax, be patient, and kind to yourself.

Tiger Athletic is a modern, private, appointment-only gym in Sandton, Johannesburg using a rigorous, results-focused methodology. We are passionate about helping you be the healthiest version of yourself, so you can lead a more fulfilling personal and professional life.