I don’t know about you, but I’ve been dealing with more than my fair share of difficulties lately. The additional tension has opened the door for my familiar foe to creep up, neck pain.
I think it’s safe to say that this year, 2020, more than any other year I can think of, has given us more stress than we could have imagined.
With all the things going on globally, it’s only natural to feel stressed out and feel tense. Unfortunately, that tension tends to manifest itself as neck pain. Usually, this means tightness, soreness, or knots you can’t seem to shake. Not to mention that dull headache, another sign of muscle tension often associated with neck pain.
Even if you’re one of the lucky ones managing the stress of the world right now better than most, the fact you’re reading this tells me you’re likely sitting behind a computer or staring at your phone. Neither activity promotes good posture, which also adds stress and tension to your neck and supporting musculature.
Most importantly, we want to nip it in the butt before the pain and tension grows into something more. Extreme neck pain is described by guru Dr. John Sarno, author ofHealing Back Pain as, “the most painful thing I know of in clinical medicine.”
Luckily, as easy as it is to induce neck pain, it’s also reasonably simple to massage it away naturally. Taking the time to give yourself some self-care is always important, but especially now.
In this guide, I want to show you some simple things you can do to relieve your neck pain, all through the power of massage. Best of all, these are all-natural remedies!
Before we begin, note that these are remedies for mild neck pain. As always, you know your body best. If you’re experiencing pain, a simple massage can’t treat, seek professional advice or treatment.
First, let’s take a moment to understand why you’re having neck pain in the first place. Stress is an obvious answer. Along with it comes anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns, and, ultimately, muscle tension. Once tense, the brain has trouble letting the nervous system relax.
As these tension patterns repeat themselves, the pathways are ingrained deeper and deeper into the nervous system due to tension, and the pain grows. This is called central sensitization, which simply means if we don’t do anything to affect our neck pain, the pain will grow more intense over time. Quite literally, 2020 has been a real pain in the neck.
Posture is important too. With more of us working from home these days, odds are your home office setup isn’t designed with proper posture in mind creating a repetitive pattern that drives neck pain.
Some workplaces will provide you with ergonomically-designed chairs, keyboards, and mouse. Be aware of your body mechanics throughout the day. Simple adjustments can relieve neck tension, such as placing your monitor at eye level – use books if you have nothing else.
The beauty of self-massage is obvious – you can do it all by yourself. You know precisely where your tense spots are, and you can apply pressure to help relieve your neck pain.
Before starting, make sure your posture is correct. Straighten your neck and back, sit or stand upright, with your shoulders down and back, away from your ears (don’t hunch over!).
Now, find the tight spot that’s giving you trouble on your neck or shoulders. For many of us, it’s the side of our necks extending down to the trapezius, especially if we’ve woken up with a stiff neck after sleeping in an awkward position.
Apply pressure with your fingers (you’ll probably feel the knot immediately) and work your fingers in a circular motion for a few seconds. Stop. Give the area a break, then repeat as needed.
Self-massage is pretty simple, right? Now, thinking about the physiology behind a knot in your neck, what’s happening is a muscle contraction. What we’re trying to do is get the muscle to relax again. Another easy thing to try is to apply heat or ice.
Try ice if you’re feeling inflammation or heat if you’re feeling tension. The heat will help soothe and relax the muscle. Choose whichever feels better to you.
I like to alternate between the two, but whichever you decide, be sure to wrap your ice or hot pack with a cloth to protect your skin. Apply for 20 minutes, then take it off, and repeat this throughout the day.
Another great way to relieve the tension in your neck is to stretch. One of my favorites is also really simple. Lean your head to the side and try to make your left ear touch your left shoulder.
Use your left arm and reach over your head with your hand to grab your right ear, pulling down gently to intensify the stretch. Hold it for about 30 seconds, then release. Repeat as needed.
After that, try a similar stretch except for this time, look down into your left armpit and do the same thing – lean your head and pull gently with your hand. You’ll feel a slightly different stretch this way. Once you finish with your left side, do it all over again on the right.
Of course, the apparent limitation with a self-massage is the fact that you can’t reach every point on your neck or back, or at least not with enough pressure. If you’ve come to this point, then seeking the help of a massage therapist might help.
Indeed you’ve seen the massage parlors all over town, but a true deep tissue massage from a certified massage therapist is different.
These practitioners (or at least the good ones) are trained to find your sore muscles in your neck and shoulders and help massage them away.
Not only can they find your trouble spots, but some of the techniques they can employ in a deep tissue massage simply aren’t possible, or are very difficult, to do by yourself.
For example, several massage forms can be done in the supine position (lying on your back). While possible, they may not provide the same level of relief if done by yourself.
You wouldn’t be here if you weren’t at least a little bit interested or curious about the Backmate, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how effective it is in targeting every one of the pressure points above. The Backmate is designed for neck pain because I couldn’t find relief after compressing my c-spine during my motorcycle racing career.
This is the beauty of the Backmate, as it essentially raises your massage game ten-fold. From the convenience of any door frame, you can target your neck, back, and shoulders with just the right amount of pressure to help massage your neck pain away. Incredibly, relief can be achieved in seconds. See more at3 Minute Rejuvenation by using Backmate.
If you look elsewhere on theBackmate website, pain relief is within reach from the convenience of your own home by massaging areas that would be very difficult to target or target effectively, with just your hands.
The Backmate effectively gives you the benefit of deep tissue massage anytime you feel the need, without ever having to leave your house.
And considering the need for social distancing from one another right now, this can be more practical than visiting a massage practitioner.
Look, 2020 has been a stressful year. Which is all the more reason we need to embrace the idea of self-care, especially in the form of neck massages.
We build up a lot of stress and tension in our necks, so getting rid of it with a massage is key. Not to mention, who doesn’t love a good neck massage?!
With a combination of stretches and Backmate massages, we can manage and keep neck pain at bay as we try our best to navigate this absolutely crazy year.
As always, the entire Backmate team and I are with you in your path to wellness and self-care.