There are some self-treatment tips to help reduce posterior neck pain. The most helpful home therapy is Active Isolated Stretching, but you can do some manual work as well. These are suggestions I give my patients in my Neuromuscular Therapy practice near Boston.
Using your thumb or a Knobble or one of the tips of a Theracane (both available in my store in the sidebar) press up and in as deeply as you can all the way across under your skull. When you find a place that hurts, especially one that refers pain, hold the pressure there and count to 10 slowly, breathing deeply as you do so. When you begin to feel less pain or you feel the muscle softening under your pressure, either let up the pressure and go back in the same place or go on to the next spot.
Wrap your hand around the back of your neck and squeeze your fingers into the back side of your neck to treat the posterior cervical group (ex: use your left hand and squeeze your fingers into the right side of your neck). As you press you can stretch away from the pressure in any direction to maximize the treatment. You can use a Knobble or Theracane here too. Use the same proceedure as above.
With your hand in the same position, search with your thumb for the “pocket” just forward of the diagonal muscle that goes across the angle of your neck (ex: left hand with fingers on right side of neck and thumb pointing down into the pocket on the left side of the neck) Press down toward your ribs and inward toward your spine. (splenius and levator muscles) You can use the Knobble or Theracane to press, hold for 10-15 seconds until you feel some change. (Remember to breathe.)
Keeping your thumb there, move your fingers to a position across from your thumb so you can squeeze that diagonal muscle (upper trapezius) between your thumb and fingers. Explore the trap all the way down and outward to the bones of your shoulder. Hold pressure wherever you feel local or radiating pain, breathing deeply. Exhaling breath stimulates the relaxation response.
Get the blood moving with gentle half neck rolls: Bring your right ear to your right shoulder. Tuck your chin and roll your head down across your chest until the left ear is at your left shoulder. Roll back and forth 10 times, breathing deeply and slowly.
5 Stretches for the back of your neck will be on the next post.