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You don’t have to be a certified massage therapist to help a loved one find some relief from his or her aching neck.

Bryan Tharnish, LifeSpa Massage Therapist and Regional Massage Educator for Life Time — The Healthy Way Of Life Company, offers these tips for giving a neck massage, which you can do just about anywhere:

  1. Direct the person to lie down facing up. The natural curve of the neck makes it easier to access all the muscles this way, and lying down ensures the muscles that need to be released aren’t being used.
  2. Apply a warm towel or heating pad to the area you’ll be working on. This serves as a calming agent, softening connective tissue and muscles to make them more responsive to pressure.
  3. In an effort to further warm the tissue and muscles, gently lift and rotate the person’s head from side to side.
  4. Begin by gently massaging the upper trapezius muscles — the large triangular muscles extending over the back of the neck and shoulders — with your fingertips. Check with the individual about their preferred amount of pressure.
  5. Now massage the front of the neck. Apply gentle, consistent pressure (without pressing the trachea), moving downward from below the head to the shoulders.

Plan to devote a minimum of 15 minutes for the treatment, checking in with your loved one throughout to determine how much pressure they like and if there are certain spots along the neck and upper shoulders that need more attention.

For more on the health benefits of massage, check out “Mmm, Massage: Surprising Ways Massage Heals the Body and Mind.”

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