How to give a neck and shoulder massage

We’re going to show you how to give a quick and easy neck and shoulder massage.

James Orci, a nationally certified massage therapist from the United States will be demonstrating this technique.

You will need the following equipment:

  • a straight-backed chair
  • a pillow or some cushions
  • a volunteer

Step 1: Setting up

This massage can be done almost anywhere but if you can find a quiet place where the person can more easily relax, all the better.

Have the person sit on the chair backwards with their legs behind. Place a cushion between their chest and the chair leaving enough of the cushion out for them to rest their chin on it.

Step 2: Body mechanics

We want to ensure that our own bodies are working without stress or strain. To achieve this it is important that we use good posture and work from our centre.

Begin by standing behind the person to be massaged and slightly to the left. Now, step the left foot forward next to the chair and turn the back foot 45 degrees. Remember to always keep the back straight and knees slightly bent at all times.

Step 3: First contact

We begin with a light contact to the middle of the back. Remain here for a moment and try to connect with the person’s breathing.

Step 4: Upper trapezius squeeze

Without breaking contact, move the hands to the upper shoulder next to the neck and start to gently squeeze the trapezius, which is the triangular-shaped muscle on each side of the neck following it down to the tops of the shoulders. Repeat this three times gradually increasing pressure but avoiding any discomfort or distress.

Step 5: Finger circling

Straighten the hands and place one on top of the other with the fingers in line. Now, place the fingers of the bottom hand at the top of the neck. Keep the arms extended and move with your entire body to make small circles with your fingers.

Using firm pressure, continue down the neck then along the top of the trapezius to the shoulder. Repeat three times.

Step 6: Side change

To change sides, we remain with hands in contact as we step the forward foot back and take two small steps to the other side. Then, step the other foot forward into position. Repeat finger circling three times on this side.

Step 7: Neck rub

Come to the side by stepping the back foot forward and face towards the person. We make ‘lobster claws’ with the hands, that is separating the thumbs from the rest of the fingers.

Alternating hands, we will gently rub then lift the muscles up from the back of the neck. With practice, this becomes a fluid windshield-wiper type motion and is very relaxing for the person receiving. Repeat this approximately tweny times.

Step 8: Scalp massage

Move in front of your partner and place the fingers at the hairline on the back of the head. Starting from the centre, make tiny circles with the fingers moving outward.

Continue up the back of the head massaging the scalp as if you were shampooing the hair. Once you reach the top move back down the sides of the head.

Once again, move to the side of your partner and repeat the neck rub about ten times.

Step back to the behind position, form the hands into loose fists and begin gently tapping on the back and shoulders with the little finger side of the fist. Cover the entire upper back and shoulders.

Open the hands with fingers together and proceed to do ‘karate chops’ along the trapezius and upper back. Remember, we are only trying to stimulate so easy with the pressure.

Step 9: Finishing strokes

We will finish with light downward strokes from the shoulders to the low back. The final strokes, slide off finally breaking contact.