Myofascial Release: Tight neck and shoulder self-treatment!

upper traps, self trigger point knots, tension headaches treatment

Everyone gets tight neck and shoulders, whether you are an athlete, office worker or new-mum and this easy myofascial release will give you huge relief!

How does this Myofascial Release of the neck help?

By using gentle pressure on trigger points or using long flowing stretching strokes helps release myofascial pain. This when applied to tight neck and or shoulders helps relieve the pain and increase mobility.

  • Ease neck and shoulder tension
  • Improve shoulder range
  • Ease headaches
  • Make you more upright
  • The best of all, it will just make you feel great!

Myofascial Release Technique

See the Video demo here or see below for an easy description.

upper traps, self trigger point knots, tension headaches treatmentThe upper trapezius (traps) knot up very regularly and cause you to feel tight, hunched over and can often cause stress and tension headaches. All you need is a firm massage ball and do the following exercise for a great myofascial release:


Lie on your back with your knees bent up and place the ball under your upper traps as shown.  You will be able to feel the knots and tight muscles through this area (they will feel harder, often tender and like a marble or golf ball).

Self trigger point of upper traps and stress pointsNext bring your arm up and back towards the ground and then oscillate it up and down (grind it!).

Tip: If you do not feel it much, lift your bottom off the ground and put all your weight through the ball.

This is a fantastic technique and once you have tried you will see what I mean! For the is best results and long-lasting relief, do this every evening or as a break at work.

This myofascial release is great to combine with a couple of other things that will combine to create a long-term fix! It is important to look at the muscles (which we are doing here) AND the joints, so try out this easy spinal self-mobilization or this back stretch your mobility.

Let me know how you get on!

Please share and like and if you want more self-treatment exercises, check out our great Ebook

Pro-tip: If you get headaches with your neck pain you could well have cervicogenic headaches – check out more info in this post form Headache Proof

Here is a great product on amazon that helps relax neck and shoulder pain.

34 thoughts on “Myofascial Release: Tight neck and shoulder self-treatment!”

  1. Barb S.G.

    I just got out of bed and did this exercise and my shoudlers and neck feel so much better! Thank you.,

    1. PhysioPrescription

      Hi Barb – You are very welcome, a great way to start the day I bet.

      Try and keep it up for a couple of weeks and you will be feeling great.

    1. PhysioPrescription

      Good on you Margie, let me know how you get on.

  2. ian parker

    Brilliant..I’ve had a stiff neck & back for months .seen lots of physios without much success. This technique is a miracle ! Thank you so much

    1. PhysioPrescription

      You are more than welcome Ian, keep at it!

  3. Sandra

    I can’t wait to try this. I store all my tension in this area and I always feel like this muscle is constantly (permanently) tight. Can’t wait to get some relief. Thank you.

    1. PhysioPrescription

      No problem Sandra, you are absolutely not alone with having tension through this area – It is great to have a way to sort it out yourself!

      Let me know how you get on.

  4. George

    Great information! May I use the physiological graphic you have here for a safety topic for my office. We primarily use laptops and mobile devices and this is a common theme amongst employees

    1. PhysioPrescription

      Absolutely George, no problem as long as information is credited to where you get it from.

  5. I just finished a series of Myofasical Release through my chiropractor! IT IS AMAZING! I had rotor cuff surgery in 2008…shoulder was very tight, having headaches constantly, and I too carry all my stress in my shoulder. No longer having headaches and as the days go by, my shoulder is loosing up! she did not introduce this particular exercise…will be adding it to my exercises. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Just did this & I was amazed! Thank you so much… It will be a regular exercise!

  7. As a person that does alot of crocheting, this is a great exercise to loosen those muscles up!!

  8. Valerie

    I’ve been meaning to try this for awhile. I finally did last night and it worked wonders when nothing else will. It’s my new favorite remedy for treating my chronic neck/shoulder pain! I highly recommend it for anyone else who suffers from it.

    1. Kristi

      I’m currently in therapy for adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder) but the therapist & Dr said I also have neck issues that are affecting the nerves in my shoulder & arm. My neck always aches! I am definitely trying this! Thanks!

    2. HI Valerie. I suffer from chronic neck pain for many years now. Doc said I have Torticollis and it doesn’t ever go away. Med helps a little. Haven’t wanted to try cortisone shots. Will try massage ball therapy!

      There is also an “exercise” you can do that feels good. While lying on your back on the floor, place a slightly inflated 12″-14″ ball under your neck and gently, slowly turn your head side to side as long as you want. It’s a self-massage technique. PT offices use this type of ball. If anyone knows what its called, please share. Thanks!

  9. marian

    for sure i will try this i hope its ok in bed since i am of an age where i cant get upoff the floor

    1. PhysioPrescription

      A tennis ball tends to be softer and less grippy but still does the job 🙂 As you improve, it may be a good way to step up the exercise by getting a firmer ball.

    2. Kim Schell

      A Lacrosse ball is hard as rock and larger than a tennis ball.

      1. PhysioPrescription

        Thanks Kim – yes a lacrosse ball is harder but as hard as a solid piece of rubber – not quite rock and is actually virtually the same size as a tennis ball 🙂

  10. Brenda J

    Would a foam roller work? If not going to see if I can buy a massage therapy ball. I live in Canada

    1. PhysioPrescription

      Hi Brenda, not nearly as well as it won’t get into those sports around the shoulder blade very well. You can also try with a firm tennis ball or something similar aswell.

    2. PhysioPrescription

      Hi Brenda, not nearly as well as it won’t get into those sports around the shoulder blade very well. You can also try with a firm tennis ball or something similar as well.

  11. Thank you! I just started a new job and My shoulders have been tense all week, tried pain killers, massage, and heating pads- all without much relief. I just tried this exercise with a lacrosse ball and it’s amazing how I feel so much less tension after just a few minutes! Will be doing this on a regular basis! Thank you!

    1. PhysioPrescription

      You are very welcome Jen, thanks for the feedback and keep at it!

  12. I’ve been given something similar from therapists using two tennis balls in a sock. Lean on a wall and grind them from there. Also is helpful for other knots on the back.

      1. Hi so do you me move your arm up and down or your body with your arm in the same position?



        1. PhysioPrescription

          Hi Adam – Just move your arm up and down but if you need more force on it, you can hold a bridge as well (bottom up off the floor).

  13. Franz Dinar Osida

    Hi! Will a tennis ball do? I tried it and oh my gosh I just felt my neck suddenly becoming softer

    1. PhysioPrescription

      Hi Franz

      Good to hear! Yes a tennis ball will do for a start until you need something firmer

  14. Awesome it is God Bless you. I had pain since weeks, had gone for release got some excersie but hardly can do it. This I did right now in the office for micro seconds and what an improvement. Thank a ton.

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