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.

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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.


Common Questions About Sciatica:

  • What is sciatica?
  • What causes sciatica?
  • Should I get a steroid or cortisol injection to treat my sciatica?
  • How can massage help me with sciatica if nothing else has worked?
  • How long does the pain and numbness last?
  • What movements or body positions should I avoid while I have sciatica?
  • Is sciatica hereditary?

Muscles Involved:


Superior Gemellus

Obturator Internus

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body, its even larger than the spinal chord. A nerve that is as thick as a thumb does not like to be sat on for long periods of time. Depending on genetics, some people have a sciatic nerve that grows through the piriformis muscle, rather than underneath it. Those who have this condition may be more-likely to experience a sciatic nerve impingement.

Sciatica is described by it’s victims as pins and needles, or a strong numbness that runs all the way down the leg. I often find that a client experiencing sciatica symptoms may also have trouble with low back pain, or a sense of chronic weakness in the legs. Sciatica is a very popular neuromuscular condition, and many healthcare practitioners have their own different methods of treating it. Some of these methods work for some people, while the same methods may not improve the condition for others.

A chiropractor, who specializes in bones will accurately tell you that the source of your numbness lies between lumbar vertebra 4 (L4) and Sacrum 1 (S1) (see anatomy photos above). A bulging or herniated disk, a vertebra that is out of alignment, tail-bone fractures and other bone-tissue related conditions do often cause sciatica. I will leave the bone-tissue diagnostics to the bone specialists. However, I will argue that sciatica is most-likely the result of a muscular condition. If your x-ray says that you are good to go, and your doctor does not think that you have a spinal, or nerve-degenerative condition, yet you still have numbness in your legs, please try to go see a muscle specialist.

As a neuromuscular massage therapist, when I work with a client who has sciatica, I often note that by releasing trigger points in the client’s piriformis muscle, as well as other muscles in the gluteal region, sciatica related symptoms can be completely eliminated with manual therapy methods. The explanation does not have to be complicated, the treatment does not always have to involve expensive injections, pills, or surgeries.

In many cases sciatica is the result of a muscular impingement. If you sat on your wallet all day because you drive a big-rig, or your legs go numb because you work at a desk for 8 hours every day, then there is a good chance that massage can provide you with relief.

To read about other muscular conditions, click the menu button at the top right corner of this page.

If you would like to give massage therapy a try, click the “Book Now” button below to book a session online. New clients will need to contact me first before booking. 

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Shoulder Pain

Watch This Video About Shoulder Pain!

Common Questions About Shoulder Pain

  • How can massage therapy help me with my shoulder pain?
  • Can massage help my shoulder function better?
  • What can I do to be able to reach behind my back, or over my head like I used to before my shoulder surgery?
  • How can I avoid injuring my shoulder in the future?
  • What specific muscle, bone, or movement causes my shoulder pain?

Muscles Involved:



Teres Minor


Long head of the biceps


Continue reading Shoulder Pain