How to give a neck and shoulder massage

In each edition of Flow, we feature an illustrated ‘How To’, like how to make a kite, for example. Or how to grow plants from cuttings. In Issue 19, illustrator Kate Pugsley made one explaining how to give a neck and shoulder massage. 

What you need:
A chair, warm hands, short fingernails (take off any rings, if necessary), massage oil if desired. General tip: Massage only the back of the neck and exert pressure only on muscles, never on bones.

  1. Invite the person you are going to massage to sit back-to-front on a chair, facing backward and with their arms folded over the backrest.
  2. Warm up the neck muscles with your ring, middle and index fingertips. Apply light but firm pressure, moving in small circles along the sides of the neck, from the hairline down the shoulders and back up again.
  3. Place your palms on the shoulders on either side of the neck. Use your thumbs to gently push up the skin of the neck. Repeat.
  4. If you sense a tension knot, place your thumbs on the knot and your other fingers on the front of the shoulders. Make circular kneading movements, exerting firm but gentle pressure to loosen the tension in the muscles.
  5. Move your fingertips in a circular kneading movement over the shoulder blades. When you get to the spine, alternate with the heel of your palm; that’s how to exert broader pressure, which feels better.
  6. Sometimes a five-minute massage can be enough, but you can always go on for longer.

Text Caroline Buijs Illustrations Kate Pugsley