A guide to the perfect neck massage

Sitting in the office for a long time and having the wrong posture can quickly lead to an uncomfortable feeling of tension in the neck, shoulder blades and upper back . A neck massage can help to quickly relax tense muscles. We explain how a massage of the neck muscle can work with and without a partner and what you should definitely pay attention to.

The right massage oil for a neck massage

For an extensive neck massage, you should always use massage oil to make it easier to stroke and knead the muscle and to make the massage more comfortable for the massage recipient thanks to the improved lubricity. Massage oils are available, for example, in drugstores and pharmacies. However, if you want to make the massage oil for your neck massage yourself, that’s also very easy.

A pain and anti-inflammatory massage oil is quickly mixed by yourself:


  • 2 tbsp arnica oil (extract)
  • 5 drops of rosemary oil
  • 5 drops of marjoram oil
  • 5 drops of ginger oil

Simply mix all the essential oils together and pour into a dark sterile vial. The DIY massage oil has a shelf life of about three months.

Before using it for a neck massage, for example, you should definitely test the oil on your skin. Essential oils can be irritating to the skin. If you have sensitive skin, you can also simply stretch your mix with some unscented oil. Grapeseed oil, for example, is suitable. Avocado oil or coconut oil is also suitable for a massage oil and not only makes your neck wonderfully relaxed, but also cares for the skin.

Self-massage: The neck massage on your own

If you want to do a quick neck massage on yourself, the first thing you should do is find out where the pain is coming from. Simply use your fingers to feel for knots and pain-sensitive areas in the neck and shoulder area. It is important that you always stay on the muscle here and never work on the bone. When neck tension is severe this can sometimes be challenging as the muscle can become rock hard and not easily distinguishable from bone. Therefore, first of all, always find out where the muscle that causes the pain is located. Usually it is the trapezius muscle that causes us suffering. In the picture below you will find a little orientation.

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When you have found the tense areas, you can start with the neck massage. Start by gently massaging the affected areas in circular motions. Don’t exert too much pressure at first, maybe the tension can be easily released. After a few minutes, the tissue should be well supplied with blood and the neck tension should be a little better. You can do this quick type of massage several times a day to relieve your pain.

If you bring a little more time for self-massage and want the full neck massage program, this video can help you:

Now you know how to massage yourself. But what if you want to give your partner a relaxing neck massage? Here’s a little guide:

Neck massage with a partner: finding the right position

In order to be able to reach the entire neck, it is important that your massage partner sits upright in front of you. The back must be kept straight and the shoulders relaxed.

If it is difficult to sit upright without support, use aids such as a seat cushion or an upside-down chair on whose backrest the massage recipient can lean during the neck massage. You can also sit comfortably on the floor.

With a neck massage, the recipient of the neck massage can of course also lie down. However, he should not lie on the floor, but preferably on a couch. This makes it easier for the massager not to overexert their own muscles. Ideally, the table is a massage table that has a hole for the face so the person being massaged can keep their head straight and not have to turn to the side to get air.

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Massage techniques for the neck area

Once you have found your common massage position, the neck massage can begin. Rub some massage oil into your – ideally warm – hands and now place them on your partner’s shoulders. Only the thumb rests on the neck. It is long and light movements that you now practice with these. When massaging the neck, let them either circle in circles or draw extensive lines on the skin of the other person. The direction of the massage should always be in the direction of the heart so that the venous blood can drain better.

By rubbing your fingers against your massage partner’s skin, you warm up their muscles and increase blood flow. In this way you protect the muscles and ensure that the neck massage becomes a complete pleasure. After the warm-up phase, you have various options to deepen the massage:

  • Knead the tense muscles with your thumbs.
  • Run your fingertips along the back of your neck, drumming against the muscles every now and then.
  • Press the back of the neck with your thumb while your other fingers apply counter pressure.
  • Run your palms along the back of your neck and shoulders.
  • Draw circular movements on the shoulder blades with your index and middle fingers.
  • Massage the upper arms and the muscles surrounding the collarbone, feel free to use all your fingers.

Feel free to use your whole hand for the neck massage

It’s up to you and also what your partner likes about a neck massage. Try the different massage techniques to determine which part of your hands is best for the massage. You have the following options:

  • With the palms of your hands you can easily apply pressure to larger areas.
  • Fingertips apply more pressure to smaller areas.
  • Knuckles are especially good at loosening up hard muscles.

Attention: With every neck massage, your fingernails should be relatively short, otherwise you could accidentally scratch your partner and that would be the opposite of relaxing.

Important things to consider

Agree at the beginning that your partner will let you know immediately if the massage doesn’t feel good. Remember that neck massage is a non-deep tissue massage. Therefore, only apply strong, but not too intense, pressure when necessary . Don’t clench your fingers or your partner will suffer painful seconds. If you discover a mood knot during your massage, then put pressure on this spot. You can recognize such knots by the fact that the skin in this position is tense and tight. Again, you should always be careful not to massage your partner’s bones.

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Preventing neck pain: This way, tension is prevented in the first place

Poor posture at the desk and the frequent use of our mobile phones are probably the most common reasons for neck tension. The head is pushed forward, the back is curved instead of straight. The result is a permanent strain on our neck and shoulder muscles and the resulting tension. There is even a word for this kind of tension: the ‘mobile phone neck’.

So that you can soon only use your neck massage for relaxation and not for pain relief, we will tell you how you can prevent tension. The German Society for Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery eV points out that pain in the neck and the entire back area can be significantly reduced with a few tips:

  • The next time you use your cell phone, make sure you’re holding it at eye level instead of looking down at it.
  • If you sit at a desk a lot, try to sit with a straight back, keep your shoulders relaxed and place both feet on the floor next to each other.
  • Regular exercise also promotes back health immensely. According to the German Society for Orthopedics, ideal sports are swimming, Pilates and yoga.

Therapeutic help for recurring neck pain

In an interview with DW Deutsch, Berlin orthopedist Dr. Ulf Marnitz that a neck massage often only has a short-term effect. For this reason, physiotherapy, for example, is recommended for long-term success, with the focus on building up the neck muscles.

If neck pain persists for more than two weeks despite a neck massage, you should consult a doctor, according to the orthopaedist. If the pain radiates, for example to the fingers or signs of paralysis, an immediate doctor’s visit is necessary.

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