Massage for Neck and Back Pain

Neck pain often occurs with back pain, and the symptoms are similar. Symptoms of neck pain may include spasm, stiffness, muscle discomfort, limitation of movement and headaches. Neck pain can occur suddenly (acute) or be constant (chronic); an acute injury can lead to chronic pain and loss of range of motion, if left untreated. Massage is a noninvasive alternative to prescription medication commonly used for treating neck pain. Massage is a manual therapy that uses hands-on manipulation of the muscles and other soft tissues to relieve muscle tension and reduce stress. Although massage affects the whole body, it is especially therapeutic for the musculoskeletal, circulatory, lymphatic and nervous systems.

When going for a massage for back or neck pain, it is wise to ask a series of questions of your therapist first. Your task is to find a qualified, ethical therapist, with whom you feel comfortable, and whose skill earns your confidence.

Your neck contains bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, muscles and nerves, any of which can hurt. Neck pain also may come from regions near your neck, such as your head and shoulders.

Most healthcare providers are recognizing massage therapy as a legitimate aid for lower back pain and an effective adjunct to lower back treatments. Fifty-four percent of healthcare providers say they will encourage their patients to pursue massage therapy in addition to medical treatment.

To reduce Neck and back pain:

  • Gently squeeze and knead your shoulders firmly. Do this for around a minute and then switch to the other shoulder.
  • Put your right hand behind your neck, gently squeezing your neck muscles. As you do so, move your shoulders up in the direction of your ears, hold for a few seconds and then relax. Take the right hand away and do this with the left one.
  • Clasp your hands tightly and place them on the back of your neck, pressing forward. Hold for several seconds, release and then do the same several more times.
  • With one hand at a time, gently and firmly rub the back of your neck in circular motions on each side of your spine. Begin at the base of your neck and work up toward your skull.
  • Wrap tennis balls (that’s right, tennis balls!) in a tube sock and either roll them gently along stiff neck and shoulder muscles or lie on them for several minutes.
  • If you are at home, a great addition to any neck massage technique is to add oil, a self heating oil, if you can find one.

Some therapists stretch and push and try to shove the ear into the shoulder.  Necks don’t naturally move in that direction (ear to shoulder.)  But the neck bones are designed to smoothly glide and slide over each other in certain directions.