Today I want to talk about some massage techniques you can use at home to help with neck pain. Pain and stiffness in the neck is very common, and can be caused by sleeping in a funny position, poor posture or by an injury, for example whiplash.
If the pain is acute or lasts for more than a few weeks, please visit your GP.
The pain or aching is usually because your neck is not aligned properly and so is under strain. Doing basic stretches can help bring it back into alignment.
Here are some you can try:
Side to side stretches. Place your right hand over to the left side of your head and keeping looking forward, gently pull your head to the right. Repeat on the opposite side.
Standing straight, tuck your chin in and downwards to your chest. Increase the stretch by placing your hand on the top of your head and exerting a little pressure downwards.
Standing straight, look up towards the ceiling and tilt your head as far back as you can without losing your balance!
Swedish massage lengthens and relaxes muscles, helping to relieve pain. Here is a massage routine you can try to relieve muscle stiffness:
Start by sitting down with your back straight and drop your shoulders down and back to lengthen out your neck. Using two hands, do large circular rubs with your fingers all over the neck area and the trapezius (the muscle at the base of your neck). Do about 12 circles in total. This warms up the area.
Using your thumbs, start at the dip of your skull at the hairline and massage in circular motions from the outside into the centre and back. Repeat a few times.
Using your thumbs, in the same area as step 2, rub your thumbs briskly up and down along the hairline.
Tilt you head to the left side, and with your fingers of your right hand, knead up and down the side of your neck. Repeat on the other side.
Cat-necking - with one hand grasp either side of the neck and slowly pull your fingers and thumbs together then push back outwards.
Using your fingers, knead along your trapezius in circular motions.
Finish by repeating step 1.
Heat packs are also very useful for warming and relaxing the muscles and can be used on their own or before a massage. I hope you find this useful. Please let me know in the comments if you would like me to cover anything in particular next time.