Tension in the neck and shoulder area can be a terrible experience. Besides pain, tightness in these areas can cause headaches and stress. Unfortunately, in a time when poor posture and sedentary lifestyles are ubiquitous, neck and shoulder tension have never been more common. Dealing with tightness in these areas is worthwhile — especially since tension in the neck can sometimes develop into serious medical problems, which may require costly treatment and perhaps even surgery.
While there are many methods for finding relief from tightness in the shoulders and neck, one of the simplest and most convenient is self-massage. Self-massage offers a good (and much less costly!) alternative to professional massage. There are two primary ways to perform self-massage on the neck and shoulders:
The hands are an adept tool for applying the pressure needed to loosen adhesions in the muscle. Simply cross an arm over the opposite shoulder, and start kneading and pressing into the muscles that run from the shoulders and upper back into the top of the neck. Any trigger points (areas of tightness and discomfort) found should be worked until they release. Pinning a certain spot, and then stretching the neck forward or to the side can help release tension. While this method of self-massage can be accomplished in almost any position, lying down is usually the best option, as it allows the neck muscles to relax.
Self-Massage Using a Ball
Pressing a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or even a golf ball into the muscle is another great self-massage technique. This method is ideal for targeting areas the hands cannot easily reach, such as the upper back. Tightness in the upper back often radiates upwards, causing tension and referred pain in the neck and shoulders. Plus, more pressure can be applied with a ball than with the hands.
To use a ball for self-massage, lie on the ground and place the ball between the back and the floor. Search for sore, tense spots to massage out by moving up, down, and to the sides. The area between the shoulder blades is especially likely to be tense. Try gently rocking back and forth to really get into the muscle. This method of massage can also be accomplished standing up, with the ball pressed between the back and a wall.
Besides the balls mentioned earlier, massage balls specifically designed for self-massage can be purchased as well. These balls may have soft spikes or other features designed to give a better massage.
Tension in the neck and shoulder areas are extremely common. Most people experience tightness and pain in these areas at some point in their lives, and some individuals suffer from such pain daily. Luckily, getting some basic relief is far from impossible, and can be easily accomplished using the simple self-massage techniques described in this article.