Massage to Relieve Neck Pain

Massage to Relieve Neck Pain

Neck pain is one of the most common reasons people seek medical treatment. Out of 291 conditions studied, neck pain is ranked 4th highest in terms of disability according to an Australian study, Global Burden of Disease 2010 Study.  Additional global research ranks neck pain as a significant impairment that affects quality of life and well-being.

The neck is the main thoroughfare for muscles, blood vessels and major arteries, nerves, bones and cartilage to support vital brain, respiratory, and nerve functions in the body.  The neck muscles, specifically the sternocleidomastoid, which runs up each side of the neck and the trapezius, which is located at the back of the neck and along the spine, are the reason we can flex, rotate and maintain stable postures in our neck and head.  The neck muscles, which are also connected to the shoulders, jaw, scapula and spine, have the greatest endurance of any body muscles.

Causes of Neck Pain

Neck dysfunction is a debilitating condition that can be temporary as a result of injury or can be chronic due to unhealed damage or disease. Some causes can be:

  • Poor posture while hunched over a computer or work area for extended lengths of time
  • Whiplash due to a car accident or contact sports
  • Sleeping in a twisted position that puts strain on the neck
  • Emotional conditions that cause tightening of muscles and stress on the neck and shoulders
  • Sprains or strains that cause inflammation and swelling
  • Damage to tissue or nerves due to pinched nerve, or muscle strain
  • Degenerative disease such as arthritis or spondylosis
  • Structural disorders such as herniated disc or rotator cuff injuries in the shoulder

Symptoms of neck pain

Injuries to the neck may present as spasms of pain, stiffness, as tightness in the muscles, as restricted movement of head/neck or as headaches and can radiate to the muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments or nerves that make up the physiology of the neck. They can also be referred pain that shows up in the shoulders, jaws, head or upper arms.

How Massage Can Help

Massage can be safe and supportive treatment for neck pain. The length of recovery depends on such factors as the intensity of the injury, age, health and previous neck injuries that might affect present healing.  In the hands of a trained professional, neck pain can be treated effectively and can provide enhanced support for complete recovery.

Techniques Used for Neck Pain

Often, neck pain protocols will begin with a gentle massage of the shoulders and upper back to help provide release of Myofascial connective tissue restrictions that restore motion and reduce pain. This may be followed by massage of the neck, face, jaw, head and throat muscles to help promote full functioning of the neck.

Typical techniques used include:

Swedish massage helps release tension of neck and surrounding muscles and promotes relaxation to help release any tension being carried in the area.

Deep tissue massage is designed to release the deeper knots or adhesions from scar tissue that can be part of the neck pain.

Trigger point therapy applies consistent pressure to help release any neck spasms or knots in the muscles and encourage blood to flow to the area for healing.

Tips to Prevent Neck Pain:

  • Maintain good posture. Become mindful of keeping your spine naturally aligned when sitting, standing and walking.
  • Consider a lumbar support cushion for your car seat or desk chair, especially if you spend extended periods of time driving or sitting at your desk
  • Use a headset if your work requires you to talk on the phone extensively. Do not hold the phone between your shoulder and your ear.
  • If you do have to sit for long periods of time at a desk or computer, take frequent breaks to help release any neck tension.
  • Ensure your neck is properly positioned during sleep. Consider replacing your pillow or mattress if they are worn or perhaps choose to use a cervical pillow to provide adequate neck support.
  • Improve your posture and strengthen your neck with regular exercises that strengthen and stretch your neck. Consider including yoga in this regimen.
  • Seek an experienced, certified massage therapist for treatment and commit to regular sessions to promote healing.

Neck pain does not have to restrict your activities or obstruct your well-being. Massage is a noninvasive option that can promote healing and can help improve posture, overall flexibility and keep your muscles and joints soft, supple and healthy.

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