Understanding Trigger Points – Stiffness and Pain at the Base of the Neck

Client’s Description

referral-splenius-cervicis-c7People complain of stiffness in their neck while turning their head. When I ask for more details, they often turn their head slowly until they say, “There. It hurts right there.” When I ask them to touch where it hurts, they lay their hand on the base of their neck and as they turn. They often say that it is interfering with their driving and that they “slept funny.” This muscle is more likely to get aggravated when the muscle gets cold while they sleep in a “funny” position.


This muscle can be stressed by things that suddenly or chronically pull the head forward. Those activities include an unusual sports weekend that involves looking up, like rock climbing. They may have been lifting things while looking up to put them on a shelf.

When I ask if they have texted or looking straight down at something, they will sometimes realize that they have a new smartphone or were using their phone more than usual.  This is worsened when the hips are pulled forward in the chair and the muscles of the neck are used to pull the shoulders up while breathing.

Forward-Head Posture makes the activation of this trigger point more likely and more often. The stretches in the self-care section can help with this.


Get Relief with Self Care.

This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.

Better Bodywork
Through Shared Expertise.

This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.

and some related posts…


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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