5 Ways to Relieve Neck Pain, according to a Massage Pro

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If you’re like me and are one of those who spends a great many hours of the day slumped in front of your computer, you’ve probably experienced neck pain in the past. In that case you’ll need to bookmark these techniques to ease neck discomfort.

Neck pain is, well, a pain in the neck–literally–that can be caused by several things, including stress, bad posture, injuries, and poor sleeping position. There are many techniques for massage that will provide relief. Here, Juan Gonzalez, massage specialist and the lead trainer at Massage Envy in Riverside, California offers five methods to relieve neck tension.

5 techniques of massage to ease neck tension

1. Swedish massage


Swedish massages are a well-known method of massage that involves long gentle, slow strokes as well as kneading, Gonzalez says. It’s a very soothing kind of massage that can help reduce anxiety and stress, and is frequently the reason for neck pain in the first place. “Being overly stressed that you’re not aware of your shoulders and neck in response to the fight or flight response could result in pain throughout your body, particularly in your neck and shoulders as well as the back,” he says. If neck pain is something you have to deal frequently, Gonzalez recommends getting a Swedish massage every two to three months to ease the pain and improve circulation.


If you’re not able to make the time or funds to see an expert, he recommends doing a neck massage to relieve the tension and pain. “Start using your hands at the base of your neck and the skull, and applying light to strong the pressure” the doctor says. “Then you can slide your fingers towards the neck until you reach your upper back. You can also do the same on your shoulder by using the same technique of gliding beginning with the upper back towards the clavicle. It can be done using or without the use of a massage agent (such as oil, lotion, or even balm.”

2. Trigger point therapy


If you experience muscle knots frequently then trigger point therapy might be a good option to find pain relief. “A trigger point refers to a hyper-irritable region which is a lump that’s tight and located mostly in the belly of the muscle which is often referred to as knots in the muscles,” Gonzalez says, noting the fact that therapy using trigger points may be uncomfortable due to applying pressure to the sensitive areas to ease the discomfort. Therefore, the frequency that is recommended is based on your sensitivities to discomfort.


Are you ready to give it a try? Gonzalez will instruct you to locate the trigger first, and then apply firm pressure with direct pressure until the 50 percent level of comfort. Ten seconds of pressure. “Then increase the pressure to approximately 75 percent, and hold it at least 10 minutes,” the expert says. “The constant pressure maintenance will cause the trigger point to relax.” It is also possible to make use of a trigger point device like tennis balls or a trigger point hook that aids in difficult-to-access areas. Repeat until you get relief.

3. Myofascial release

“Myofascial release massage is focused on relaxing the myofascial — [the] connective web-like tissue that surrounds the muscles as well as every muscle fiber through gentle pressure, kneading and movements to release the tension in your muscles,” Gonzalez explains. There are many methods to perform myofascial release including using foam rollers or gently stretching muscles, joints or the skin. Gonzalez says that cupping can be considered an aspect of myofascial release since cupping lifts skin and separates the fascia between the skin and muscle, which stops the muscle from freely moving.


If you want to try the technique at home the doctor suggests making use of your fingers or trigger-point tool for applying pressure to the upper back or shoulders to about 50% of your comfortable level. Perform a few slow , gentle neck movements like turning your head to the left and right , and then bending your neck to the left and right, and upwards and downwards when you do this. Do this for around 10 seconds, then repeat the process until you feel relaxed.

4. Hot stone massage

Hot stone massages include smooth flat heated stones in the treatment. This helps to relieve neck discomfort. “Heat generally, helps relax the muscles and fascia, thereby increasing the flexibility for the muscles and skin,” Gonzalez says. “This can be a relaxing method that can improve blood flow, reduce tension and ease the pain.” This kind of massage might not be suitable option if you suffer from specific medical conditions, including skin diseases such as burns, cancer, eczema, psoriasis, or acne, so make sure to speak with your physician before taking a massage.


For a simple home-based version, Gonzalez suggests heat therapy that involves using a heating pad over the neck region.

5. Therapy for assisted stretching


Stretching the neck also does well, which is the reason Gonzalez recommends the assisted stretch massage technique for therapy. “The goal of this technique is to stretch the muscles. They can be shortened due to inactivity or through activities which are done using poor posture,” he says. “I’ve seen this happen with athletes quite often or people who perform lots of repetitive actions. Thus, stretching and a massage therapist to stretch the muscles over joints and extremities can help improve the movement of your joints.”


If you’ve suffered any injuries, for example caused by car accidents or sports injuries, make sure you check with your physician before taking part in a stretching session assisted by a professional or any other massage procedure.


While a session of stretching with a professional is the most effectiveoption, Gonzalez suggests that stretching be an integral part of your routine and performing every day at home. In doing this Gonzalez stresses that the neck region is an extremely sensitive area that is a lot of pressure for the human body. Therefore, make sure to perform stretching your neck at a slow pace and with care and you should feel no discomfort.


Below are some neck, head and shoulder exercises to help you start:


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