Self Care-Neck

Self Care – Neck tension when wearing a heavy coat

Table of Contents

Here, you will find self-care strategies for neck tension, pain, and irritation in the upper neck from a heavy coat or backpack. Additionally, you can find more about this pain pattern, what aggravates it and how people describe it, in this other post.

An underlying chronic condition like fibromyalgia or structural problems in the upper neck makes getting relief more difficult. In those cases, See your bodywork professional.

Activities To Avoid or Change:

Consider a lighter backpack to relieve neck tension with that heavy coat

Once the trigger point is activated, several known activities keep it aggravated.

Compressed by Weight

Mainly, avoid compressing the muscle. For example, a backpack, ill-fitted bra straps, a tight coat, or a shoulder bag will press into this area, are known irritants, and create additional microtrauma.

Hobbling and Toting

Also, activities that repeatedly or unevenly raise the shoulder aggravate this trigger point. Notably, using a poorly fit cane that is a problem. More likely, especially with middle-aged clientele, leaning on the bars of a treadmill when fatigued aggravates it. As I mentioned in the first post, carrying buckets, bales, or blocks also irritates this.

Twisting and tilting the neck

Avoid Twisting and Tilting

Subtler activities that tilt and twist the neck while lifting the shoulder also agitate this trigger point. So, twisting to the side while reaching back to tend to a child in a car or playing the violin can agitate this. For one client, twisting quickly to answer his wife while sitting at the dinner table did the trick.

This muscle could get aggravated if your kid hugs your neck like this. Yet, it’s completely worth it.

For Temporary Relief:

Neck tension trigger point in green

Pain Patch

A patch of Salonpas or IcyHot will offer relief when it bothers you. These medium-sized patches are the right size to cover that green asterisk on the trapezius muscle. In addition, these patches have lidocaine, an analgesic that helps to calm the local irritation. They are available locally or on Amazon.

These self-care activities, like over-the-counter drugs, are not intended to replace appropriate medical attention. If you have concerns about these self-care activities, get help from a professional. Use these suggestions and strategies with discretion and at your own risk. See your doctor when your pain is severe, persistent, or doesn’t respond to these simple suggestions.

Stretches and Exercises for Longer-Lasting Relief:

Breathing Exercises

Sitting for long periods with your elbows elevated can shorten the muscle. Afterward, when the elbows are unsupported, this pattern will be irritated. More, other underlying muscles complicate this structure. For example, the serratus posterior and levator scapula get involved.

This breathing exercise is an excellent countermeasure and leaves the entire head and neck more relaxed. So, follow up with these doorway stretches if you have rounded shoulders and a tight chest.

Address the Underlying Postural Problems

This muscle contributes to Forward-Head posture. It becomes short and strong. Then, once the head has become imbalanced over the trunk, this muscle is supported to become shorter and stronger.

If you have Forward-Head Posture, review this collection, especially the self-care exercise Tuck, Tilt, Turn and Lift.

Sensory Processing and Anxiety

This problem can perpetuate more than neck tension. Research shows that it irritates the sympathetic ganglion. As a result, it is often associated with sensory integration dysfunction. Also, topical patches can offer short-term relief, but those clients need longer-lasting relief. A coat can be a comforting form of deep pressure that helps with regulation to modulate sensory processing. Unfortunately, that strategy doesn’t work when this trigger point is active.

I’d love your feedback on how this works for you
and any suggestions you might have.
Email me at

Yoga Corner

Twisting stretch of the trapezius

Lifting the Shoulder

The upper trapezius lifts the collar bone and pulls the shoulder back when the head is back over the shoulders. Inherently, twisting poses tend to stretch one side of the trapezius while lengthening the other.

Seated and lunging poses that twist to stretch hip rotators can work well for the upper trapezius. As, the back shoulder moves closer to the base of the spine, the upper trapezius contracts. Conversely, the front shoulder drops down and slides around. Naturally, the ribs move away from the base of the head, stretching the upper trapezius on that side.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.

Tony Preston

Tony Preston, LMT has been treating adults and children since the early 90s. He has authored a number of texts on neuromuscular and craniosacral techniques. He has taught Neuromuscular Therapy for ASHA School of Massage and craniosacral the National Institute of Craniosacral Studies. He currently teaches seminars in Integrative Craniosacral techniques at The Body Guild.

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