Stiff Neck: Pain Patterns, Causes, and Self-Care

These posts are all related to stiffness in the neck. Trigger points that create a stiff neck are often, but not always, connected to Forward-Head Posture or Cervicogenic Headaches. You will a large overlap in these 3 collections.

If your neck is very stiff and/or painful, there are usually more than one pattern involved. Most of the patterns that are involved in a stiff neck involve attachments to the C2 (axis) vertebrae. Seventy percent of the rotation of the head on the neck happens at the axis so the majority of self-care routines involve and start with release of the

These posts include:

  • Trigger point patterns and how people describe the pain
  • How you activate and intensify the pain pattern
  • Self-care to show you how to get quick relief on your own
  • Stretches and exercises that provide longer-lasting relief
  • Brief anatomy review of the involved muscle
  • Yoga poses that open this muscle
  • Treatment notes for therapists

Note that we are in the process of converting these posts into a more informative and accessible format. Thank you for your patience.




This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


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Can’t Reach the Pain
Under the Shoulder Blade

This pain and tension under the shoulder blade may be the most common pain pattern that I see. It isn’t always the primary complaint as people have gotten used to the constant ache.

It is usually combined with this pattern in the upper neck, which creates upper neck tension to go with the shoulder blade pain.

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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