Massage for Upper Back and Neck Pain - What You Need to Know


In today's world, the average person spends many hours every day hunched over the computer, the steering wheel, and in front of the television. This creates a problem because poor posture over a period of time will cause the pectoral muscles on the front of the chest to shorten, which in turn will bring the shoulders forward, tightening the muscles in the upper back and neck.  If you roll your shoulders forward and inwards towards your chest, you will feel your upper back tighten.  You are most likely sitting in a position similar to this for hours everyday.

This position then becomes the normal position for the body to be in. If a person slumps at their desk for hours, and then tries to adapt a correct posture by sitting correctly, pulling the shoulders back and putting the neck and head into a correct position, it will cause pain because the body has adapted to an incorrect posture.  And because it causes pain to try to adapt a correct posture, (mainly because the pectorals are short) the person will go back to slumping because that's what feels comfortable and normal.  At this stage the muscles are chronically tight, causing a lot of pain and discomfort.  Many people looking for relief seek out massage.

When addressing chronic upper back and neck pain, many massage therapists go straight to the upper back muscles where the client is feeling the pain and tension.-usually between the shoulder blades and the surrounding area.  However, as we have just discussed, the shoulders are tight because they are pulled forward and inward by the chest (pectoral) muscles that are tight and short. So the shoulder muscles are tight because they are stretched and pulled long.  Of course you want to massage the upper back and shoulders; to relax them and loosen them up.  But if the massage is going to be more effective and longer-lasting, the pectorals have to be released, taking the pressure off the back.

With chronic neck pain, it's necessary to address the muscles on the front of the neck as well as the pectorals. The back neck muscles are usually tight because the shortened pectorals and the muscles on the front of the neck are pulling things forward, leading to upper back and neck stiffness as these muscles fight to stabilize the head and neck. Therefore, loosening and releasing the front neck muscles along with the pectorals is a key factor in addressing the tension in the back of the neck.

So for maximum effectiveness and longer lasting pain relief from upper back and neck pain, make sure your massage therapist addresses the shortened pectorals and front neck muscles, as well as the muscles of the upper back and back of the neck.