Neck Muscle Pain Relief – Exercises That Work!

Can you relieve muscle pain in your neck yourself?

The answer to this question is a clear yes, at least in most of the cases.

When your neck hurts, it often does due to excessive muscle tension.

Neck pain is often caused by tense muscles in this area, and you can take care of it yourself.

On this page I will show you which muscles are usually responsible for this kind of pain and how to get it under control.

1. Neck Muscle Pain Relief – What To Do?

The muscles in the nape of the neck and the shoulder are responsible for tension that often leads to a painful, stiff neck.

A self-massage presents itself as a good treatment option. It allows you to relax the affected muscles and thus relieve pain.

Many people experience improvement immediately after the first massage.

Why does a self-massage work?

If you massage the nape of your neck, then you “communicate” with your nervous system.

Your nervous system is the body’s control station, and as such also controls your muscle tension.

When you massage tense and painful areas, you are telling the brain to reduce the muscle tension in the area in question.

2. Neck muscle pain relief – Where should I massage?

In order to eliminate tension in this part of your body, you will have to focus mainly on two areas, i.e. the nape of the neck and the shoulders.

Both areas contribute to a sore and painful neck since they make up an inseparable unit. They are linked by certain muscles, which influence each other.

That means, too much tension in the shoulder muscles can radiate in the nape of the neck causing problems there, and vice versa.

There are also trigger points in the shoulder muscles that can lead to neck pain.

2.1 Self-Massage tips

  • Concentrate on tense and pressure-sensitive tissue. These are the areas which suffer from too much tension anf thus need to be released.
  • If you are working in the area of your neck or your cervical spine, use caution and do not overdo it when it comes to the massage pressure.
  • Feel out the area slowly and observe how your body responds after a few sessions.
  • Before starting the massage, check how the nape of your neck feels when you move it. Shake and nod your head, making sure to take note of where there is tension, if the movements are supple, if they are painful and how far you can turn your head.
  • Remember what you feel. You will need to have it in mind later for comparison.

2.2 Which massager should I use?

You can massage your neck and shoulders with your fingers, a massage ball or the Trigger Fairy.

A massage with your fingers is very effective, but only if you have strong fingers that do not tire easily.

If not, you risk hurting and straining them faster than you’d like. So be careful when using your fingers.

With a massage ball you can give your shoulders an effective and intense massage.

You can treat the region of the upper neck “reasonably” well. However, you need to lean against a wall, and “twist” somewhat.

With the Trigger Fairy, you can massage your entire neck and shoulder area.

You can do so without having to stand up, without having to lean against a wall, and most importantly, without straining your fingers.

This is very practical if you are at the office or at home sitting on the sofa.

Below are instructions on how to do the massage using the Trigger Fairy.

For those who do not have a Trigger Fairy, you will find self-massage instructions using your fingers or a massage ball, in written form, in images, and in video at the bottom of this page.

Massage yourself every day until your pain is gone.

2.3 Neck Muscle Pain Relief: Self-massage of the Neck Area.

Muscles: Erector spinae, levator scapula, and the splenius cervicis

Let’s get started directly in the nape area using precise massage strokes.

  • Hold the Trigger Fairy with both hands and hold its curved portion in front of your face.
  • Place the head of the Fairy directly beneath your skull on the muscles of the cervical spine.
  • Apply some pressure on it and slowly stroke the nape of the neck, searching for painful areas.
  • Once you find one, massage it a few times with slow strokes.

Proceed in this way over your entire neck area, and apply pressure from behind as well as from the side.

As an alternative, you can use the pressure-motion technique.

  • Search for painful spots in your neck muscles.
  • Apply pressure to these spots and move your head head.
  • Make very slow movements to the front, back and side.
  • Go from making very small to very large movements, and pay attention to what feels best.
  • Work very precisely and slowly; otherwise it will be difficult for you to find the small tense areas.

2.4 Neck muscle pain relief: Self-massage of the lower neck.

Muscle: Middle trapezius

Many people experience tension in the middle trapezius muscle, which often contributes to pain and tension in the neck.

It is therefore important to examine this muscle thoroughly! Don’t worry if you have never heard of it and do not know where it is.

It is only important to know the area you need to massage and work on. This is your upper shoulder area – right there where you knead instinctively when your neck is sore and tense.

To make sure to get all the tense spots, work on this area from the front, and then from above.

Pressure from the front – pressure-motion technique –

  • Hold the Trigger Fairy with your opposite hand.
  • Press the head of the Fairy into the front region of the upper nape of your neck, and let the grip “rest” on your abdomen.
  • Make circles with your shoulder starting small and gradually getting bigger, but keep the movements slow.
  • Massage every tense spot of the “anterior nape” of your neck.

Pressure from above – Precise massage strokes –

  • Hold the Trigger Fairy near its head using the opposite hand.
  • Place the index finger on top, and your thumb on the outside of the Fairy.
  • Place the Fairy on your upper head of the shoulder blade.
  • Make long and slow massage strokes along the nape of your neck.
  • Vary the direction the pressure is coming from, applying it at times more from the front, top or rear.

2.5 Neck muscle pain relief: Self-massage of the shoulder blade area

Muscles: Lower part of the levator scapula, middle & lower trapezius, and the infraspinatus.

You will now massage the area of the angulus superior.

This is the bony area you can feel when you put one or two fingers over your shoulder and move them slowly.

From here you will be working towards the outside of your shoulder above your spine of scapula, and then proceed with the area below this spine as well as with the inner and ouert border of the shoulder blade (margo medialis and margo lateralis).

Inner border of the scapula, angulus superior & above the spine of scapula

I recommend using the pressure-motion technique here. Apply pressure in the desired area and carry out one of the following movements:

  • Hold the Trigger Fairy with your opposite hand and place it on your angulus superior.
  • Let the arm of the side to be massaged hang loosely.
  • In the area of the angulus superior make circles with shoulder, and raise and lower it.
  • In the area directly over the spine of scapula, raise and lower your arm.
  • In the area of the inner border of the shoulder blade, cross your arm repeatedly in front of your body.

At the angulus superior


Above the spine of the scapula


At the inner border / margo medialis of the shoulder blade

The back of your shoulder blade, below the spine of scapula

  • Use the fingertips of your opposite hand, reaching over the shoulder to feel the spine of scapula.
  • This is the bony raised ridge on your shoulder blade that runs almost horizontally along it.
  • Massage the area under that spine.
  • Place the head of the Fairy under the spine and search for painful areas by applying pressure.
  • Take your time and explore the entire shoulder blade area below the spine.
  • Massage each tense spot that you find.
  • To do this, you can either make small circular movements with the handle of the Fairy, or…
  • Raise, lower and rotate your upper arm.

3. Neck Muscle Pain Relief – Self-massage with the Hands

For those among you who don’t own a Trigger Fairy, below are the instructions for massaging all the areas with your fingers or a massage ball.

3.1 Self-massage of the neck using a massage ball

Muscles: Erector spinae, levator scapulae, and the splenius cervicis

  • Place a massage ball on the upper part of your neck and press against a wall.
  • Carefully roll over the entire nape area, right next to your cervical spine and look for painful areas.
  • Once you find one, roll over this spot slowly about 10 times.
  • Repeat this until you have worked on the entire back side of your neck. The pressure should be applied to the muscles from the “back”.
  • Now proceed in the same way but more to the side on the nape and apply more lateral pressure.

You can also use the pressure-motion technique to relieve pain and stiffness in your neck.

  • Again, place the ball on your neck.
  • Apply pressure, then shake and nod your head, i.e. look up, down and to the sides.
  • Play with the position of the ball.
  • Once you come across a painful spot, make a few slow head movements.
  • Concentrate the movements and the ball on the sensitive spots. Still, make sure not to increase the pain which is never the goal.

3.2 Self-massage of the neck using your fingers

Be careful with your hands and fingers.

They can tire quickly, which may lead to overuse.

  • Shape your hand like a shovel and press your fingertips into the muscles of the nape of your neck.
  • Find the painful tensed areas and massage them by applying pressure while slowly moving your head.

3.3 Self-massage of the neck with your fingers

Muscle: Upper and middle part of the trapezius

  • Make a pliers shape with your index finger and grab the nape of your neck.
  • There is only one muscle you can grip here, which you will be rolling between your fingers.
  • Look for it. It varies in thickness ranging from the size of a pencil and that of your little finger.
  • The best place to feel it is in the middle and down your neck – in gets thinner as you go up the neck and nestles in it.
  • Once you have found the muscle, try to feel how it runs from top to bottom.
  • Roll it between your fingers and search for painful spots.
  • Once you find one, increase the pressure and roll it back and forth between your fingers about 10 times.
  • By doing this, the tension in the nape of the neck will usually be eased significantly.
  • Massaging with the thumb and index finger technique is very tiring for the hand muscles.
  • Keep your massage short and take frequent breaks. This way, you will avoid overburdening these muscles.

Now, concentrate on the middle trapezius. This muscle is easy to find.

  • Grasp the thick bulb at the lower part of your neck with your opposite hand, and roll it between your fingers.
  • Find the tense areas and roll each spot between your fingers about 10 times.
  • As an alternative, you can use the pressure-motion technique by lifting, lowering and circling your shoulder.

3.4 Self-massage of the shoulder blade area using a massage ball

Muscles: Lower part of the levator scapulae, middle and lower trapezius, and the infraspinatus.

Inner border of the shoulder blade & angulus superior

  • Here a massage ball is used.
  • Examine the entire area of the inner shoulder blade for painful spots and massage each of them with 15 slow, rolling movements.
  • Concentrate on this area. That means you carry out the rolling movements starting just before the sensitive spots to just beyond them.
  • The main areas where you can soothe the tension are the angulus superior and the inner border of your shoulder blade (see image).
  • If there are other areas that are tense, massage those as well.

Examples of massage positions


In the area of ​​the angulus superior.


In the area of ​​the trapezius.


This is at the inner border of the shoulder blade, in direction of the lower trapezius.

The back of the shoulder blade

Last but not least, you need to massage the infraspinatus. This muscle lies on your shoulder blade, just below the spine of scapula.

The spine of scapula is the bony ridge on your shoulder blade. You can feel it when you place your fingers over your shoulder.

Place a ball on the muscle and search for painful areas. Massage each one of them with 10-15, very slow, rolling movements.

Self-massage of the infraspinatus


Palpation of the spine of scapula


Massage of the infraspinatus with a ball.

4. Neck pain relief- Your self-assessment

Test your mobility and the feeling of your neck once again.

Move your head very slowly in all possible directions.

Do you notice any changes?

It is important to keep evaluating your self-massage regularly in order to relieve pain and tension in the nape of your neck,

Ask yourself where the massage helped the most, and where not.

Keep experimenting with different positions of the Trigger Fairy, your hands, and the massage ball during the massage, and try to massage each tense spot.

Thank you for reading my site.

I hope your pain will be a thing of the past, soon!