11 Easy Tricks To Get Rid Of Neck, Back & Shoulder Pain

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Sometimes, a quick stretch is all you need to loosen up. But other times, experts say, you might need a massage to help your muscles relax — especially during stressful times or after an intense workout. (We know, it's a real hardship.)

"If you have chronic pain, definitely get looked at by a professional," Elizabeth Bragg, LMT at Shift Integrative Medicine says. "But everyday aches and pains from being at a computer, swimming, exercise, things like that? There are things you can do to relieve the worst of it."

It turns out there are a handful of common pressure points and areas of tension that you can target to bring relief, and even if a pro massage isn't in your budget, it's totally possible to DIY. We worked with Bragg and acupuncturist Zach Haigney, L.Ac., to create a few easy self-massage techniques that can help you feel better fast. They primarily focus on the neck, shoulders, arms, and legs.

Click through to discover some tips and tricks to help ease your pain.

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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: The Back Of Your Neck
How To Fix It: Tilt your head back, then wrap your right hand around the back of your neck, pushing your hand against your neck for support. Slowly bend your head forward, holding your neck firmly for 10 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: The Base Of Your Head
How To Fix It: Find the two bumpy ridges half an inch away from your spine, right at the base of your skull. Those are pressure points. Press for 10 seconds, and then slowly work your fingers around your skull, moving outwards towards your ears. (This may also help relieve a headache!)
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: The Side Of Your Neck
How To Fix It: "A lot of neck pain actually comes from clenching the jaw," Bragg says. This overworks the muscles right behind your ears, which extend from your neck to your collarbone. Find the bone that juts out slightly just behind your ear (where the top hand is pointing in the illustration). Using your thumb, apply pressure at that spot, then slowly follow the muscle down your neck to your collarbone with even pressure, up until the point marked by the second hand on the illustration. Do one side of your head first, then the other.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Upper Shoulders
How To Fix It: Find the pressure point right where the shoulder meets the neck. "That’s a really good place if your shoulders are up all the time, if you’re at the computer all day, or if you have a headache," Bragg says. Press down on that spot for 10 seconds, and then elevate your shoulder to deepen the pressure. "It loosens up the fascia, or connective tissue," she says.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Upper Shoulders
How To Fix It: Take your left hand and put it on your right shoulder. Feel for your upper trapezius muscle — grasp it with your fingers and slowly roll over the muscle, towards your collar bone. Repeat with the other side.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Back Of The Shoulders
How To Fix It: Start at the the point of the upper trap, and slowly sweep your fingers across your shoulder with even pressure. Not enough? Tilt your head to the opposite side (to the left if you are working on your right shoulder) and repeat.

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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Lower Back
How To Fix It: Put your hands on your waist, thumbs forward, and use your fingers to massage the muscles on the side of your spine in circular motions.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Forearms
How To Fix It: Rest your hand on a table or pillow, palm up. Using your other hand, gently rub across your arm with the palm of your hand in one direction, gradually shifting down your arm. Also try applying pressure in sweeping motions, pushing down your arm and away from you — either with your hand or your other forearm.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Tops Of Forearms
How To Fix It: Find a pressure point on the thumb side of your forearm, 1/4 inch down from your elbow — it'll be a tender, sore spot. Press that for 10 to 12 seconds. "It’ll feel sore for a while, but in a minute it will start to loosen and feel really light," Bragg says. "That’s a spot where a lot of tissues around muscle fiber get stuck together."
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Hands
How To Fix It: More and more people are suffering from "texting thumb," as Bragg calls it. Find the point where your thumb meets your wrist and apply pressure in circular motions to help alleviate the soreness. You can also use your other hand to stretch out the muscles and rub circles at the base of your wrist.
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Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Where It Hurts: Calves
How To Fix It: Especially if your legs are sore from running, focus on the tibialis anterior, the large muscle that runs down your lower leg, just on the outside of your shin. Hold up your leg while sitting, and use your opposite hand to dig your fingers into the muscle. Roll your ankle in a circular motion as you apply pressure into the muscle. Shift your hand down a few inches toward your ankle and repeat.
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