Stiff Neck – Relieve It Yourself

Is your stiff neck driving you insane?

  • Can you hardly turn your head and every movement hurts?
  • Do you suffer from a lumbago in the neck and want to know what you can do about it?
  • If so, then stick around..

You won’t regret it.

Such problems are usually caused by strain on the muscles resulting in tension.

This in turn can lead to pain and the loss of some range of motion.

What you need to do is loosen the affected muscles.

One of the best ways to do this is a self-massage. Perhaps you have never heard of this and never tried it yourself.

Well, believe me, it works!

No one knows your body as well as you do, and you know exactly where it hurts.

You can free tight neck muscles yourself by massaging them, even if you are not too sure about this right now.

I will show you how the massage works, and help you find the small areas of tension.

Stick around and try it!

Just try it. You have nothing to lose.

If you have any questions about self-massages after reading this page, feel free to contact me at any time.

This page contains lots of information on causes and self-treatment.

If you don’t have much time then jump straight to the massage section.

1. Stiff Neck: Causes

Do you have a stiff neck and think it could be a more serious condition?

This fear is justified in rare cases only, but if in doubt, always consult with a doctor.

This is especially important if the pain radiates right down your arm and hands, extends along your entire spine, or is accompanied by fever and headache.

Fortunately, the usual causes of a stiff neck are not acute or life threatening.

Most of the time it is caused by psychologically stressful situations, poor posture, bad habits or just a cold draught.

All of these things influence the tension of your muscles, and especially those in your neck.

Mentally stressful situations literally sit in the nape of the neck.

This is especially true when we do not know how to deal with the situation at hand, have no solutions, or are torn between several options.

This constant tension then leads to pain.

Your body sounds an alarm, alerting you to the problem and asking you to provide a solution.

When life becomes overwhelmingly stressful, the muscles of the neck get tense.

1.1 Poor posture and bad habits

  • Do you hold your phone between ear and shoulder?
  • Do you need to turn your head to look at your screen?
  • Does your job or sports activity require that you look up all the time?

These actions continuously tense the muscles of your cervical spine, which are either contracted, shortened or elongated.

In the long term this leads to strain and tension.

This is notably the case when your muscles are not used to the stress, are inadequately trained, or no compensatory activities are performed.

In addition, a rapid movement of the neck after holding it in the same position for a long time can lead to neck stiffness.

The strained muscle fibres are extended by the rapid head movement, which the body interprets as a “threat” and responds in order to protect the muscle from overstretching.

Such a response is most likely to occur when you are tired, or move suddenly and unexpectedly.

In the next chapter, you will learn which muscles are usually tense when you have a stiff neck, and how you can relax them.

2. Stiff Neck Exercises – Self-massage Works Wonders!

Muscles: Splenii muscles, the levator scapula, and the upper trapezius

Our massage will focus on the back and side of your neck area, because this is where you find the muscles that can lead to neck stiffnes.

You can work on this area with a ball, your fingers or the Trigger Fairy.

To protect the fingers and to make sure the massage is a pleasant one, try to use the Trigger Fairy whenever possible, and the fingers only when necessary.

If you do not own a Trigger Fairy, you can read about how to do the massages using your fingers on the page dedicated to each muscle (see links placed in each section of this page).

The massage shown, has some overlap with the one in the article Neck pain relief.

If, in addition to a stiff neck, you also have general tension in the nape of the neck and the shoulder, then that article will be worth reading as well.

Before starting the massage, let me point out that you should begin carefully and wait for your body to respond to each massage.

Your neck is a sensitive region.

Keep the massage short and do not exert too much pressure, especially at the beginning.

2.1 Stiff neck exercises: Massage of the posterior and lateral neck

In this section precise massage strokes as well as the pressure-motion technique are used.

  • Take the Trigger Fairy in both hands and hold the curved portion in front of your face.
  • Place the head of the Fairy directly on/below the base of the skull.
  • To feel this area, place one or two fingers on the centre of the back of your head.
  • Tilt your head forward and feel the ligament that emerges when you do that.
  • Slide your fingers one to two centimetres to the left or right, depending on which side you wish to massage. From this point on feel out the muscles of your cervical spine.

1. Fingers in the middle of the back of the head & palpating the ligament.


2. Area next to the ligament. Palpation of the base of the skull


3. Palpation of the neck muscles

2.1.1 Self-massage with precise massage strokes

  • Press lightly on the muscles of the cervical spine and look for painful areas.
  • Do this by stroking the neck little by little.
  • Once you encounter a painful muscle, stay there, and massage it with short strokes.
  • As an alternative, you can stroke the entire area of the cervical spine and slow the massage stroke when you come across a tense spot.

Upper massage zone: At the base of the skull


Lower massage zone:: Lower area of ​​the cervical spine

Important Note:

It is very important that you apply the massage pressure from behind as well as from the side of the muscles. This is the only way you can be sure to have discovered all of the areas of tension.

Moreover, the muscles at the side of the neck are usually responsible for a stiff neck.

Practice applying pressure on the muscles from behind and from the side by holding the handle of the Fairy in front of your head, or to the side of your head.


Pressure from behind: Handle facing forward.


Pressure from the side: Handle facing sideways.

2.1.2 Self-massage using the pressure-motion technique

Here you will work the same areas you already massaged with the precise strokes.

However, instead of sliding over the muscles, you will be moving and contracting them, respectively.

  • Search for painful muscle tension by applying pressure in the area in question.
  • Once you find such an area, stay there and move your head.
  • Tilt your head slowly forward and backward, from one side to the other, and turn it.
  • Stop when you have come to the most painful point in your movements, without increasing the pain!
  • Carry out small and large, but always slow movements.
  • Similar to the precise massage strokes, it is important to apply the pressure from behind and from the side.

Examples for motions of the neck and head during the massage


Neck flexion


Head rotation

2.2 Stiff neck exercises: Massage of the upper Trapezius using your fingers

Massage this area by applying precise rolling movements or use the pressure-motion technique.

In both cases, use your fingers by placing your thumb and index in a pincer grip.

It is important that you only use your fingertips and not the distal phalanx to grasp the muscle.

Otherwise, you will not be able to create enough pressure or apply it accurately, and your fingers will become very quickly strained.


Grasp the back of your neck at your cervical spine with your thumb and index finger.

Try to grasp the muscle that is located there, and pull it away from the neck a bit.


There is only one muscle that you can pull in this area.

It runs from the upper cervical spine down to the outer third of the collarbone.

At the top, it lies very close to the neck and is no thicker than a pencil.


It is easier to grip it with the opposite hand from the middle of the neck.

2.2.1 Self-massage using precise rolling movements

  • Take the muscle between your fingers, which are placed in the pincer grip and roll it between them.
  • Continue doing this with the entire muscle and search for painful spots.
  • Roll each of these spots between your fingers several times.

2.2.2 Self-massage using the pressure-motion technique

  • Search for the painful areas in your muscles as described above.
  • Once you find one, stay in the area.
  • Now make slow movements with your head.
  • Tilt the neck to one side and turn it.
  • Do this slowly so that the muscle doesn’t slip from between your fingers.

My advice: Keep this massage technique short and take repeated breaks. Otherwise you run the risk of overburdening your fingers.

Thank you for taking the time to read my site.

3. Stiff neck – Duration & other tips

How long does it take until a rick in the neck goes away?

This depends on each individual.

For some people the massage works immediately, while for others it might take a week or two until the neck recovers its full range of motion.

Nevertheless, improvements usually occur much earlier.

It also depends on the following:

  • The intensity of the tension
  • Whether you actually find the actual causes and resolve them
  • How calmly and accurately you massage the muscles

The more intense the tension is in the neck, the longer it takes until it disappears, even if you are doing your massage right.

Time and inner peace play an important role here.

Sometimes you won’t progress as quickly as you would like.

This is especially true if you do not eliminate the root causes.

Causes for a stiff neck are, as mentioned above, among others things, poor posture and mental stress.

Often the tension only eases when the stress drops or a problem is solved.

If the root problem is not dealt with properly, the muscles will tense again and again, even if you massage them correctly.

In this situation self-massages only temporarily loosen up the nape of your neck. In severe cases, it may have little or no effect.

The same is true when it comes to incorrect posture or bad habits.

If you do not eliminate the cause, sooner or later the problem will occur again.

The precision of the massage is ultimately very important:

Only when you find the tiny areas of tension and massage them patiently, can you get rid of the pain