I am sorry to say, I can count on one hand the sessions I’ve received where the therapist thoroughly understood the neck.
The neck is so fascinating in its structure and its energetic functions. Cultivating a true understanding and compassion for the life of the neck is one of the most exciting of therapeutic opportunities.
Of course first we need to remember the anatomy of the neck and how to palpate it in detail.
At the very least these three muscles must be addressed: trapezius, semispinalis capitis and the multifidi/rotatores. They are quite distinct in structure and function, so each calls for a different approach.
The cervical portion of the trapezius is like the curtain behind which the major movers of the neck reside. The semispinalis capitis is the thickest and strongest muscle in the posterior neck and you can visualize it as the main representative of the cervical erector spinae. The multfidi and rotatores lie deep to semispinalis and have more to do with rotation as they run obliquely up from transverse to spinous processes.
So for now, just taking the multifidi and the rotatores (lying deep to them), one needs to palpate a little posterior and medial to the transverse processes and use cross-fiber palpation from inferior to superior in order to assess tension at every single vertebral level from T1 up to C2. Upon finding tension, gently press into the tension and hold, “melting”, that is using sensitive, direct pressure friction.
Really knowing anatomy is the best way to show we truly care. With care and clear understanding, may we restore to the neck its graceful strength and beauty, facilitating its miraculous role as the living passageway for breath, nourishment, and the creative expression of heart and mind in speech and song!
My just published book, The Deep Massage Book has the subtitle How To Combine Structure and Energy in Bodywork and goes into this important integrated approach in full detail. Available through me, my school, or from Redwing Book Company http://www.redwingbooks.com/sku/DeeMasBoo (See attached reviews from Tom Myers, Ben Benjamin, and others. I like this one from Bob King – “It is the most innovative book for bodyworkers in the past 30 years!” Thanks, Bob!