Neck Pain Relief

Neck Pain Relief: Yes, you can do it yourself!

At least in 90% of the cases it is possible. What you have to know, and maybe you do already, is that this annoying pain at your neck is caused by your muscles – similar to tension type headaches –.

Here I am referring to excessive muscle tension which disturbs your muscle-joint-play, and trigger points which irritate your nervous system.

The next thing you should know, and this might be new to you, is that you can relieve your muscles from these unfortunate and unhealthy states by massaging them.



... Loosening Up Your Neck

... Of Your Neck

... Of Your Trapezius

... Of Your Shoulder

Potentially Responsible Muscles

Your Self-Assessment

Still, just rubbing around won't do the job. You need to apply pressure in a precise way, exactly on the muscles that can cause the trouble.

In the following paragraphs I will show you step by step how to do it. So let's get on with it.

Neck Pain Relief: Your Self-Massage

Before you click on the video, please rotate your head very slow for a couple of times and bend as well as extend it. Do the "YES" and the "NO" motion. How does that feel? Give the movement quality some attributes and remember the feeling.

The video below will help you to get started with your pain relief. Make sure to watch it. Time invested here, will be time invested well. Just take yourself 10 minutes and follow my instructions. You will not regret it. You are about to massage yourself. Start with the side that is stiffer or more painful.

Now, that you have watched the video, how does your neck feel? What changed? Do the "YES" and "NO" motion again. How does the treated side feel compared to the other one? You should be already a little bit better by now. 

You could not follow along the video? Below you will find the written instructions – however they don't refer exactly to the video, but tell you all you need to know –.

You need to review a particular muscle? It's all there for you in the section “Potentially Responsible Muscles” and in the corresponding in text links.

Written Description Of Your Massage

Before we start I want to give you some upfront info:

  • Massage yourself every day until your pain is gone.
  • Only massage tender and/or tight muscles.
  • Healthy muscle tissue is not tender and doesn't need to be massaged.
  • Always try to hit a tender spot on its most painful location as that's a problematic zone.
  • Don't work around it. If it's too painful, apply less pressure.
  • At a pain scale ranging from 1 – 10, aim between 4 – 7.

1. Your Neck Pain Relief: Loosening Up Your Neck

Preliminary Work To Relax Your Neck Muscles

Here we are going to use the tennis ball massage to loosen up the muscles at your neck. Often this step already provides quite some relief.

Place the ball at your neck, next to your spine.

Then lean against a wall and search in the area from your occiput – bottom of skull – all the way down to your upper back for tender spots by rolling with the ball over your muscles.

Experiment and apply the pressure from behind as well as from the side.

Roll a couple of times over each tender spot. Don't rush and take your time. This may take you  two or three minutes at a max.

Now that you massaged the back and side of your neck, how does it feel? Did you experience already some relief in your neck? Turn your head to both sides and also do the "Yes" and "NO" motion? Can you already make out any differences?

Now let's do some more specific work on your neck muscles.

Loosening Up The Neck Muscles

2. Your Neck Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Neck

Muscles: Erector Spinae, Levator Scapulae & Splenius Cervicis

Here you will be working on your erector spinae, levator scapulae and splenius cervicis.

Actually you are going to work the same area as in step 1. But this time you will use your fingers in order to really hit the small and problematic muscle tissue that is causing your neck pain.

Here you can support your massaging hand with your free hand by putting one over the other. This way you can apply more pressure and also safe your joints. 

Curve your fingers a little bit and start at the place where your spine meets your skull. Press with your fingertips in the muscle tissue and try to notice any tender spots in this area.

When you hit one, massage it for 5 – 7 times with the finger-technique, which means you will press in the muscle and then slowly pull over the spot.

Don't slide over your skin here, just pull over the muscle. Usually such a massage stroke is hardly longer than 2 centimeters.

Then stay with your fingers where you are and do the press and move massage technique by performing about 20 slow yes – and no movements and focus on the range of motion that is most painful.

Repeat this on all the tender areas you find on your neck, applying pressure from behind and from the side.

Still, don't overdo it here. You have a lot of days to come where you can practice massage to free yourself from neck pain.

Your neck is quite a sensitive area and if you work it too much or too aggressive, you may be left with some dizziness and/or vertigo for a couple of days, and that's not nice. So start slow and see how your body reacts to your massage.

3. Your Neck Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Upper And Middle Trapezius

Muscle: Trapezius

Let us now examine your trapezius muscle, which is almost always involved in neck pain and thus should be checked very thoroughly.

We start with its upper part and work it with the thumb index finger technique. Use a pincer grip and grab the small roll of muscle at the back of your neck and try to pull it slightly away.

Don't worry, there is only one muscle that you can actually grab. But be aware that the upper part of your trapezius is very thin and in circumference usually not bigger than a pen.

You can feel it best at the midsection of your neck – upwards it gets even thinner –. As soon as you found the muscle, try to feel its course upwards and downwards. The tenderest spot is often found in the lower part of your upper trapezius.

Now roll it all along its length between your fingers and massage each tender spot max. 10 times by rolling it between them.

Self-Massage Of Upper Trapezius

Self-Massage Of Upper Trapezius - From Behind -

The thumb-index-finger technique is very tiring for your hands which is why I recommend to keep your massage with this technique short or to take frequent rests.

Proceed in the same manner with your middle trapezius. It's the big roll of muscle that is so easy to pinch at your lower neck/upper back.

Self-Massage Of Middle Trapezius

Self-Massage Of Middle Trapezius - From Behind -

4. Your Neck Pain Relief: Self-Massage Of Your Shoulder

Muscles: Levator Scapulae, Middle And Lower Trapezius & Infraspinatus

Last but not least we shift our attention to your shoulder area.

Lots of your shoulder muscles are connected to your neck and thus transfer excessive tension directly to it.

We start using the tennis ball massage in the area of the inner border of your shoulder blade, where you will work the lower part of the levator scapulae and the middle as well as the lower part of the trapezius.

Notice any tender spots and massage each of them with max. 15 strokes.

The most relevant points for your neck pain relief are mainly the upper and lower angle of your shoulder blade. Still, if you find other tender spots, don't spare them out just because I didn't mention them!

Common Tender & Trigger Points Responsible For Neck Pain

Wow, you are almost done and just about to inspect the last muscle on your neck pain relief journey, namely the infraspinatus. It is located on your shoulder blade, right below its spine – spine of scapula –, which is the bony horizontal line that you can feel by putting your hand over your shoulder. Again, the tennis ball massage is the way to go.

Feeling The Spine Of Scapula

Infraspinatus Tennis Ball Massage

Potentially Responsible Muscles

The following list displays muscles that can be responsible for your neck pain. All of them got already discussed in the paragraphs above. Still, if you need more info on a specific muscle, this is the place!

The ones highlighted with an „!“ are extremely often involved in neck pain and should be checked first.

Note for stiff neck complaints: The upper trapezius and the levator scapulae muscles are the main troublemakers. If your neck is stiff, check them first. There is a big chance that massage of these two muscles will already free your neck.

Remember: Muscles should not be painful when pressed on. So, if you find one or more of them tender, massage them!

Erector Spinae ! (the part at your cervical spine)


Levator Scapulae !

Trapezius ! (upper part)

Your Self-Assessment For A Successful Neck Pain Relief:

Always evaluate the results of your self-massage. Where did it bring the most relief, where did it seem not to help at all? Maybe there are some areas you feel you have to take a closer look at? Which muscles have been hard for you to find?

In the next days, do a couple of more rounds of the massage. With every time you do it, you will get better.

You know some things now, I would have been very happy to know when I was in pain.

Thanks a lot for reading and in case of any questions or suggestions, you are welcome to contact me.

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