Relieve Lateral Neck Pain and Tightness! Here’s how

lateral neck pain

Do you have clients experiencing restriction in their neck and struggle to lie down on a table? Would you like to treat it in a seated position? If yes, you have come to the right article on the lateral neck muscles!

Let’s look at some neck issues and how we can treat our clients and patients seated if they actually don’t have the luxury of lying down during the treatment.

Lateral Neck Muscles

What muscles are creating lateral flexion?

  1. Scalene Muscles
  2. Posterior Scalene Muscles
  3. Sernocleidomastoid (SCM)
  4. Levanter Scapula

The lateral neck muscles are important because they are responsible for movements of the neck cervical vertebra as well as aid in accessory respiration.

Active Treatments

  1. First step is to assess the lateral neck muscles. Instruct your patient to tilt their neck to one side, check for tightness, and do the same to the other side.
  2. When you apply the technique you can use a small amount of lubricant or cream emollient to prevent skin burning. However, avoid using oil as we do not want to work on a very slippery surface. To effectively treat the area, there should be some traction on the fingers.
  3. We are working in an area where there are a lot of nerves, it is the area known for the Brachial Nerve Plexus. This means you might have your patients complain of some referral discomfort down the arm. Caution to work at a superficial level! The muscles are very easily accessible so you do not need to go deeply at all.

Active Movement 1

    1. Have your patient rotate their head left and right. We can ask them to use a clock analogy saying move from about 10 o’ clock to 2 o’ clock.
    2. As your patient slowly moves their head, glide three fingers starting from the back of the neck and feel for those ropey bands. Repeatedly glide your fingers backward and forward in a cross-fiber action.
    3. As your patient turns to the right, glide your fingers towards the left (anteriorly), and as they look to the left, glide them towards the right (posteriorly).
    4. Repeat the process until your patient slowly starts to have a better feel of freedom of range and reduced pain or discomfort.

Active Movement 2

    1. Have your patient tilt their head from left to right once again.
    2. While they are slowly tilting their head, place your fingers up just under where the skull and side of the neck meet up. Glide your fingers starting from the top going towards the shoulders to catch some of the fibers at the top of the trapezius, the levator scapula, the scalenes and the superficial fascial tissue.
    3. Repeat the process until your patient slowly starts to have a better feel of range.

Re-assess the area once again by asking your patient to move their neck through ranges of rotation and side bending.



  • Smith, C. (2021). Learn Muscle Anatomy: Scalene Muscles.
    Milkos – Athlete Suffering from Sports Injury, Feeling Neck Pain on White Background Stock Photo – Image of fracture, hobby: 179035048 (
    Sebastian Kaulitski – Neck pain stock illustration. Illustration of adult, joint – 74819526 (

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