Stiff neck, jaw and head pain? Try out these DIY massage techniques
3 min read
A lot of us are stuck behind a computer for long hours every day. No wonder we're feeling a stiff neck, jaw and head pain. We've teamed up with sports masseuse and yoga guru Minnie Samengo to help!
Suboccipital muscles are found at the base of the skull down onto the top of your cervical spine. Tightness in this area can result in tension headaches, neck pain or pressure behind the eyes. These muscles work closely with the masseter muscles (your primary chewing muscles) located at the top of your jaw. Tightness here can result jaw pain, ear ache and pain underneath the eyes. Give these massage techniques a go to help relieve head, neck and jaw pain.
Use your thumbs and press all along the base of the skull until you find an area that needs to worked. You can also use a circular motion with the thumb. You might come across a pressure point that radiates pain up into the head or elsewhere. If it feels good stay here on this trigger point to help relieve some of the tension, maximum about 1 minute per sore spot. Now using your first three fingers, take circular motions to massage all the way down the back of your neck. It might feel tender so judge how much pressure you need.
Take your first three fingers find the top of the jaw then drop down and feel the meat of the muscle. If you’re not sure you’re in the right area then clench your teeth and you’ll feel the muscle pop out. Sit here and just massage the muscle and find the sore spots that need some work, especially right by the ear.
Once you’ve got some soreness out of the base of the skull, a great way to prevent this from returning are chin tucks. The idea behind this simple exercise is to try and open up and lengthen the cranial base. When you’re working at your computer for example, make sure you don’t have a forward head posture. You want to bring that chin back as far as you can, and give yourself a double chin and slightly tuck the chin. You might already feel a stretch down the back of the neck. Release this position slightly, and this is the posture you want to be in. Repeat as many times as you want.
Myofasical release of the neck. Take a soft fist and place it underneath bone right behind the ear into the soft tissue and glide down very slowly. No pulling or forcing, just let the tissue take you and use as much pressure as feels good for you. If you want to add a stretch you can start to bring your opposite ear the shoulder as you work your way down. This should be soothing so take it slow along with some deep breaths. Once you make your way all the way down to the top of the shoulder, start again by moving a little bit back and start behind the ear. Breathe here and enjoy it!
Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles at front of neck. Turn your head and bring your ear down, you’ll feel it pop out. Grab it in between your thumb and index finger, then slowly massage taking circular motions working your way down. To give it a stretch grab the muscle again at the top, and bring your opposite ear to shoulder and breathe. These muscles get really tight with forward head position or if you’re looking down a lot
Trapezius squeeze. Give your shoulder a squeeze and pinch the trapezius muscle with thumb and index finger. This could be tender!
Feeling any looser? Us too. If you want to follow along, Minnie takes us through a DYI session on the Pocket Sport IGTV here.
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