Neck Pain

Does this video below describe your pain? Watch more to learn ways to manage it at home.

Understanding Neck Pain and How to Get Rid of it

Common Questions About Neck Pain

  • How can massage help with my neck pain?
  • What movements or muscles are causing my neck pain?
  • Can massage help with whiplash?
  • Can neck muscles cause tension headaches?
  • Why does it hurt when I turn my head left or right?
  • Why is it uncomfortable to sleep without a pillow?

Muscles Involved:

Levator Scapula

Splenius Capitis & Splenius Cervicis

Upper, Mid, & Low Trapezius

Sternocleidomastoid (SCM)




Common Causes for Neck Pain

Levator scapula tension and prolonged shoulder elevation. (The shoulder stuck in a shrugging position).

A common neck-pain related statement that I hear in my practice is “I slept on my neck wrong, and now it hurts when I try to turn my head to the left or to the right”. Right away, by taking note of a clients posture, a massage therapist can recognize which side the pain is on by comparing the elevation levels between the client’s shoulders.

The levator scapula muscle is a thin, but very busy muscle. Spanning from the superior angle of the scapula to the transverse spinal processes of C1-C4, this muscle really crunches around when someone runs over it with their thumb. The palpable natural twist in the muscle is often mistaken as a “knot”.

Some common habits that contribute to levator scapula pain include: Sleeping on one side with the shoulder pressed against the ear, carrying a purse or heavy luggage over the same shoulder for long periods of time, holding tension in elevated shoulders during stressful situations, and talking on the phone with no hands.

A neuromuscular massage therapist has an understanding of where these muscle or nerve impingements occur, as well as the ability to target and manipulate these tissues in order to restore their posture and functionality.

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More Causes for Neck Pain

Upper, Mid, and Low Trapezius Tension

The trapezius muscle gets its name from it’s shape. The trapezius is a larege trapazoid-shaped muscle that has multiple responsibilities. Spanning from the occiput, out to the acromion process at the lateral region of the shoulders, then symmetricaly downwards to insert at Thoracic vertebrae 12.

The upper trapezius fibers are very common contributors to Tension headaches in the temporal region; above the ears or at the base of the skull. If you find the trigger point located in the belly of the upper-trap muscle fibers, you may easily notice the pain pattern that is triggered when you pinch hard enough. (See image at the top left)

If you are experiencing these symptoms, massage therapy techniques can release the tension in these areas to help you get rid of your headaches.

The trapezius muscle can contribute to pain patterns ranging from the temporal region all the way down to the mid back. In many cases tension in one section of the trapezius muscle will trigger pain patters in the adjacent region. For example, overextended lower trapezius fibers (usually the result of slouching) will cause mid back pain, which then causes neck pain from tight upper trapezius fibers. (seen in the picture below)

Prolonged periods of time in this position can result in permanent forms of desk posture. Massage therapy can help you restore your posture, and teach you how to keep it restored. 600669590-612x612

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Sternocleidomastoid and the scalene muscle group:

The “V” looking muscles in the front of your neck are named collectively as the “sternocleidomastoid.” The muscle is named after the anatomical landmarks of its origins and insertions. Spanning from the sternum and the clavicle, upwards to the mastoid process underneath the ear. The SCM helps us turn our head to the left or to the right (rotation), as it also allows us to tuck our chins down towards our chests. download (1)

If you are careful to avoid your artery (don’t pinch a pulse), while pinching trigger points located on this muscle (see the x’s in the image above), you may feel the tension headache patterns that these muscles are known to induce.

A habit of sleeping with two pillows, staring down at a computer or phone, TMJ, or clenching the jaw can contribute to tension and discomfort in this muscle group.

Click the textbook below to read more

If you are ready to try massage therapy, click the “book now” button below.
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You can also read more about other pain patterns, and how massage can help by referring back to the main menu.

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