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Dreamstime Planks

It’s not new news that strengthening your core can help with low back pain. But, what you might not know is that having ripped six-pack abs isn’t enough. A recent study among runners at Ohio State University found that back pain is commonly caused by weak deep core muscles. Popular exercises like crunches or back extensions only work the surface abdominal muscles not the deep core muscles which are used to stabilize the spine. The most effective exercises for building deep core strength require you to hold your body in a static position, like plank exercises done in Pilates.

So, whether you’re an Olympic athlete or a weekend warrior focusing on Pilates type exercises is the best way to improve strength and stabilize your deep core. Here are some beginner Pilates exercises to get you started.


Often times, morning neck pain is attributed to strenuous activity, normal wear and tear, or aging. Did you know that there could be other reasons for frequent neck stiffness? You may want to examine your pillow or your sleeping position for a better explanation.

The Right Pillows for the 2 Best Sleeping Positions

  • Back sleepers – choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck with a flatter pillow supporting your head.
  • Side sleepers – keep your spine straight by using a higher pillow under your neck than under your head.

Tips for Choosing the Right Pillow

  • Try a feather pillow – this type of pillow easily conforms to the shape of the neck
  • Consider memory foam – some traditionally-shaped pillows are made with memory foam which also conforms to the contour of your head and neck.
  • Avoid using a high or stiff pillow – a pillow that is too firm will keep the neck flexed overnight and can result in waking up to pain and stiffness.
  • Use a horseshoe-shaped pillow when traveling or reclining at home – these convenient pillows can support your neck and prevent your head from falling to one side, especially if you doze off.

Beyond the correct pillow and sleeping position, research shows sleep quality may also play a role in neck pain. Read more on Harvard Health Publishing.

dreamstime_l_64044146Starting small may be your best strategy for sticking to New Year’s resolutions. While exercise and weight management are important, something as simple as maintaining good posture might just be your best resolution in 2018! Did you know that muscle tightness and backaches are often a result of poor posture while performing everyday activities?

Harvard Health has 4 strategies to help improve your posture and reduce back pain:

1. Imagery – concentrate on standing and sitting up straight. Use the image of a straight line passing through your body from floor to ceiling. Imagine you are a ballerina or soldier standing at attention.

2. Shoulder blade squeeze – try sitting up straight, drawing your shoulders back and squeezing your shoulder blades together for a count of five, then relax. Try this 3-4 times.

3. Upper-body stretch – with one foot in front of the other and knee bent, stand facing a corner with your hands flat against the walls, elbows at shoulder height. Keeping your back straight and head up, stretch your chest by leaning toward the corner. Be sure to exhale as you lean, hold for 20-30 seconds, then relax.

4. Arm-across-chest stretch – reach your right arm directly out in front of you, keeping it parallel to the floor. Gently grab your elbow with you left hand and carefully pull your right arm across your chest until you feel a mild stretch in your right shoulder and arm. Hold for 20 seconds and relax. Do the same stretch for the left arm. Repeat 3 times for each side.

Read more about how good posture can help minimize back pain.


After a warm fall, the cold is finally creeping in just in time for the excitement of the holidays. For most, it is a time to celebrate with family and friends, but for those susceptible to back and neck pain December can be very stressful. From shopping to entertaining to decorating, planning ahead may make all the difference for a pain- and stress-free holiday. Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the season and remain part of the festivities.

Wishing you a happy, and healthy, holiday season!


Warm, sunny days are a great time to get outside and move while enjoying the relaxing mood of summer. Below are 4 low-impact, flexibility exercise ideas that can help keep your core strong and minimize back issues. Be sure to include a warm up and cool down as part of your exercise routine.

  1. Swimming or water classes — One of the most refreshing means to increase your activity level, water exercise can be very gentle on your joints.
  2. Biking — A good idea is to pick a route with flat terrain and only small hills, this will keep the impact low and reduce lower back strain.
  3. Yoga — An exercise class that often moves outside in the warm weather, yoga is an excellent way to increase flexibility and strength and combat neck or back pain.
  4. Exercise walking — Whether on trails, on a track or in your neighborhood, walking can be enjoyable. If you need extra support for your back or hips, you can use trekking poles to add stability.

Remember to wear sunscreen and to stay hydrated while exercising out in the heat and sun. A good rule of thumb is to drink 8-16 oz. of water per hour while outside and then double it if you are exercising. On very hot days be cautious and always pay attention to heat index warnings. Enjoy the summer!


According to the National Scoliosis Foundation approximately 7 million people in the U.S. are affected by scoliosis. The condition is defined as a sideways curve of the spine at an angle of more than 10 degrees (Scoliosis Research Society), and the cause is often undetermined.

You might be surprised to learn many famous people have the condition:

Scoliosis can affect anyone. Screening is important during yearly physicals as the condition is often diagnosed in children and adolescents. While it equally affects males and females, in scoliosis-diagnosed females it is eight times more likely to progress to a curve requiring treatment (National Scoliosis Foundation). Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent curve progression. In fact, many scoliosis patients go on lead normal lives.

If you suspect symptoms of scoliosis, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sharma today: (914) 288-0045.

For scoliosis patients looking for support, the following organizations may be helpful:

  • Curvy Girls – a teen and adolescent scoliosis support group
  • National Scoliosis Foundation – a patient-led nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children, parents, adults, and healthcare providers to understand the complexities of spinal deformities such as scoliosis


With spring sports playoffs beginning, it is important to make note of some simple tips to help ease back pain while cheering on your favorite team. Let’s face it, bleachers are uninviting and hard to sit on for prolonged periods of time. In an effort to get comfortable, most of us slouch and lean forward resulting in very poor posture. Sitting in this manner, with an unnatural curve of the spine, can cause back pain.

Here are 4 simple tips to help ease “bleacher back:”

  1. Sit up straight – do your best to maintain proper posture
  2. Cushion your seat – use a stadium cushion, blanket or bring along a stadium chair to help support your back
  3. Stand up – remember to stand up a cheer at frequent intervals
  4. Move around – loosen up your muscles by getting up and moving at halftime or between innings.

Read more about “bleacher back” here.


Not only has May been designated Employee Health and Fitness Month, it’s also National Walking Month! Employers who raise awareness in the workplace will benefit from strengthening employee performance, reducing workplace stress and cutting back on costs relating to health benefits. For employees, endless hours of sitting at your desk can contribute a multitude of health issues, including back and neck pain. That’s why it is so important to get up and get moving. Walking 10,000 steps per day is a simple way to meet the CDC’s recommended 30-minutes of physical activity. Finding time to reach the daily goal can be challenging, which explains the new trend of employees incorporating walking into their workday.

If you are looking for ways to reach your daily 10,000 step goal, try these tips:

  1. Set a reminder on your smartphone — Walking 5 minutes out of every hour can make a difference, but it is easy to get caught up in work.
  2. Ask your boss if they offer exercise programs — Many companies offer walking clubs, exercise classes, and even treadmill or standing desks.
  3. Schedule a “walking meeting” — If your fellow colleagues are game, plan to walk and talk! It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing.
  4. Add a walk to your commute — If you live close enough, walk to work or the train. For employees with a long commute, consider getting off the train or bus a few stops early and walking the remaining distance.

Read more about this latest trend.


Prolonged periods of time spent sitting at your desk hunched over a computer, tablet or cell phone can lead to neck strain called “text neck.” The poor posture created by positioning your head over a tech device can add up to 60 pounds of stress to the neck muscles. Today, the average smartphone user spends two to four hours per day using their device, which may explain why the condition is becoming more and more common. Left untreated, “text neck” can lead to numbness, tingling and nerve irritation. There’s no need to suffer! A quick fix is to try bringing your device up to eye level, so you avoid hunching. Stretching exercises can also help ease your neck pain and strain, try these three easy exercises.


Before you squeeze into those skinny jeans, you should know your outfit choices may have a hidden impact on your back health.

According to a recent survey by the British Chiropractic Association 73% of women suffer back pain, and a fashionable wardrobe may be partly to blame. Topping the list of popular wardrobe culprits are skinny jeans, oversized bags, hooded coats, backless shoes and heavy statement necklaces. These fashion items may restrict movement, change your gait, and cause undue strain, which can affect posture ultimately causing neck and back pain.

Read more about staying fashion-forward while saving your back.