Neck and Shoulder Massage in Simple Steps
It used to be that mailmen and athletes were the two major professions that suffered neck and shoulder aches. Nowadays, with virtually everyone using a computer for long hours every day, the problem can affect anyone. Fortunately, a partial solution can be provided with a few simple, easy to learn techniques.
To get the full benefit, it’s desirable to seek out a professional massage therapist. But in the meantime, or for those smaller aches and pains, nearly anyone can adopt some of the methods used.
Have the recipient lie down on a mat or soft carpet. A massage table is handy, but not usually among the standard items of furniture in the average home. Have him or her take a few deep breaths, exhaling well to try to relax the whole body.
It may help to place a rolled towel briefly under the body at the top of the back, just below the base of the neck. This helps stretch out muscles which are tensed, prior to working them.
Now, positioned above the person, cradle the head with one hand, turning it slightly in one direction. Knead the chest muscles first. These, paradoxically, are often one of the primary culprits. If they’re tight, they can cause the back muscles to tense, pulling the neck muscles with them.
Then work your way up, rubbing the trapezius at the top of the back, then onto the other muscles in the neck. The trapezius is one large muscle group – the top portion for part of the neck system, which fan out into large triangles on both sides of the spine.
Then, switch hands, turn the head slightly the other direction, and repeat.
Making small circles using the tips of the fingers, work the other neck muscles, then slide the fingers down the length of the muscle to the middle of the back and up again.
Turn the recipient over and repeat the procedure in reverse, starting with the base of the skull. Work down the trapezius pair, then over to the chest muscles. Sometimes a pillow under the chest will help create elevation that both stretches the neck and provides room to work. Move the head side to side very gently and stretch just ever so slightly.
Long, moderately firm, gliding strokes are ideal for this type of massage. Be prepared to go slowly and cover a much wider area than just the neck, since the source of the problem is often away from the spine and base of the skull.