Myofascial Unwinding: How to Stretch Your Sore Neck Muscles

This myofascial unwinding technique is very effective and gentle way to stretch your sore neck muscles. In fact, you can use this technique to relieve tension in any muscle in your body.

For this stretch you use breathing, eye movements and mind/body interaction. The key is to use the absolute minimum pressure. The more tuned in to your body you are, the more profoundly you will discover the feeling of freedom in your muscles.

This is a beautiful technique. It utilizes the way that the mind and the body interact and it’s called a myofascial unwinding, or neuromuscular stretch. It’s the interaction of nerves with muscles and it can be applied to any cause of stiff muscles in your body.

Background on Myofascial Unwinding

Just a little bit of background, all muscles have a little structure called a muscle spindle and there are literally millions of them scattered throughout your body. The muscle spindle is in parallel with muscle fibers and it is made up of a nerve that is shaped in a spiral.

As you stretch, it’s almost like a spring and as you stretch, it will fire and send a message to your spinal cord which will then zip back to the muscle. This makes the muscle contract. This is how the spindle sets the length of the muscles and this technique is designed to adjust the spindle length.

If you can reset the spindle then you can stretch the muscle beyond your previous limit. Usually, when you reach the place where you feel stiff, the spindle fires and says: “That’s enough.” And that’s as far as you can go in the stretch. If you then try and pull really hard and stretch it further all you’re doing is I’m stimulating the spindles more which are sending more messages to contract and so your muscles are getting tighter and you’re getting sore.

There is to be another way to stretch, a more gentle way of doing this and we’re going to go through it now.

Stretching the Trapezius

Trapezius Muscle

We’ll start with a trapezius stretch. This is a very common muscle that goes into spasm. It causes pain, and sometimes tension headaches.

To stretch this muscle, drop your head over to the side, and sit on your other hand because you don’t want to cheat by lifting your shoulder.

Come down until you reach the limit of your stretch. It needs to be comfortable, just before those little spindles are going to fire and say, “That’s enough.”

At this point, what I do is I breathe in and I count, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. And I breathe out and I wait two or three seconds. I don’t breathe in again until I’ve held my breath for the count of 3.

I turn my eyes in the direction I want to go. Then I wait for the muscle to give way. You’ll find the muscle will gradually release, and stretch further, until suddenly the spindle wakes up and says, “That’s far enough.”

What you’ve done is stretched the muscle untiil it reached the point just before the spindle was going to fire. As you breathed in then you increased tension in your body, but it’s a subtle thing.

Tension increased, but not enough to make the spindle fire and then as you breathed out there’s a natural relaxation that happens. It spreads through your whole body. And the spindle just lets go.

As long as you keep to very gentle movements it takes two or three seconds and the muscle just lengthens effortlessly. You can use this for any muscle in your body.

In summary: reach your limit. Breathe in, count six, breathe out. Wait 2 to 3 seconds. Don’t breathe in again. Just feel the muscle give way. This is the most efficient way that you can stretch muscles in your whole body.

Alexia October 14, 2009

I would like the free trigger point manual. The first one I received I was not able to open. Thanks Alexia

Jonathan October 16, 2009

Hi Alexia,

the manual was sent as a zipped file to make it smaller. Just email me and I can send it go you unzipped.

Best Regards

Jessica December 10, 2009

Wow. Thanks for this great video. I suffer with neck and back pain off and on. My aunt is an excellent massage therapist, but she lives 3 hours away. This morning, sore and grumpy, I was searching for something that might give me relief like her massages do. I tried the move in your video and am finally experiencing some relief. Thanks!!!

    Jonathan December 13, 2009

    Hi Jeesica

    I am delighted that you have found this technique helpful. If you look around on the site, you may find other useful techniques.
    I wish you all the best.

    Jonathan Kuttner

Shelly December 15, 2009

Dr. Jonathan,

Thank you for the video. I am learning to be gentle with my body. Your emails that you send out are a great reminder. I’ve read this a couple times, but always learn new things when I watch it. I mention your site to my physical therapists. I tell them what I’ve learned from your site and they agree, your technique is very beneficial. Your site easily explain things in a language that I understand. I am able to offer more during p.t. by what I read here.
Thank you,

    Jonathan December 15, 2009

    Dear Shelly,

    I’m delighted to hear that you’re finding the techniques beneficial. I believe understanding is a real key to getting better and a lot of medical practitioners tend to hide behind jargon. So keep up the good work.

    All the best

tim December 29, 2009

Dear Jonathan…

I was introduced by a friend to this website as she is having the pain exactly the same shown on the red spot area in your Trigger Point Manual (No.5) which occur on the right hand side of her head…But mine is a little bit more…which i had the same pain at the red area PLUS a lump behind of my neck at a size of a ping pong ball…it comes maybe 6 months once…and dissapear and come again. Please advice me on this…thanks

– tim –

    Jonathan February 12, 2010

    Hi Tim

    Trigger points are small [ less than 1/2 cm] areas within the muscle which go into spasm and cause pain plus stiffness. You can feel the Trigger with careful palpation within the muscle itself.

    You are describing a swelling the size of a ping pong ball which is red in colour. This is very unlikely to be a trigger point. I strongly suggest you have this checked out by a doctor. There are a number of possibilities. When something is sore and red – then it may be infected or inflamed. The swelling could be a lymph node. There are other unusual structures which occur in some people like branchial cysts [these are embryologic structures].

    So- when the lump comes up again – get it sorted out!

    Kind Regards

    [Please note- I cannot suggest a specific treatment for your complaint as I have not taken a full history, examined you or reviewed your investigations.
    Therefore all comments I make can only be general – relating broadly to the problem you have described. ]

[…] Then, slowly release the pressure and stretch out your neck muscles. […]

Lynne February 22, 2010

Finally someone who understands…you are a godsend..I have hundreds of TrPs from a severe fall. Even in my stomach muscles which effects eating.. is there away to relieve or massage this area.
thank you again

    Jonathan March 13, 2010

    Hi Lynne

    TrP’s do occur in the abdominal muscles- in the rectus abdominis [central strap muscles] & in the obliques which are on either side of you abdomen. You can use the same acupressure techniques to release these TrPs. Follow with local heat [I have found a wheatbag the best]. There are specific stretches for each muscle group which require you to extend your back and twist – similar to the camel or sphinx position in yoga.


Car February 28, 2010

Thank you for your very helpful information on stretching. My trigger point is located on the right side of my back, slightly under my shoulder blade and I have had it for a long time, probably from my golf swing. Now it is beginning to get extremely aggervatged by this motion. I will try your techniques for stretching, and pressure, however, I was wondering if you have any specific stretches for this hard to reach place.

    Jonathan March 13, 2010

    Hello Car

    This sounds like you could have TrP’s in your rhomboids. We are in the process of completing videos which explain diagnosis & treatment of most areas in your body. One of these is the rhomboid. These will be out in a few weeks. In the meantime – check out specific stretches for rhomboids. The best resource is Travell & Simons.


[…] it is the trigger point responsible, it will give you a headache. Try using ischemic pressure, and stretching your neck to release the myofascial […]

ERIK B. MOROSINI June 12, 2010

i couldn’t open and see the videos, do you know why? I clicked on the arrow and nothing happened.

    Jonathan June 14, 2010

    Hi Erik,

    The most likely answer is that you need to update your flash media player. You can do this by going to this link to download the free adobe flash player:

shikha singh July 21, 2010

hi jonathan,
a wonderful technique, i was sitting with my sore neck muscles going thru the mails. got urs tried it and saw the effect. will surely try this with our patients.

    Jonathan August 14, 2010

    hello Shikha

    It is very exciting how rapidly you feel relief if you treat triggers accurately. as you get better you can both diagnose and treat successfully in a very short time. please do try the techniques on your patients.

    kind regards

marlene calai August 5, 2010

Hi Jonathon, I have a noggle which is also a trigger point in my tibia shin muscle and sometimes the pain goes down into my angle and I take circulation supplements.

    Jonathan August 14, 2010

    Hello Marlene

    I assume that you mean a nodule. Trigger points in the muscles in the shin area can refer pain down into the ankle and foot. If you apply the following technique found in this link–
    this should settle the pain down if nodule is a trigger point.

    Kind regards

    PS As I am not able to take a full history, examine you or to view your investigations, my comments will be general suggestions which you may choose to pursue with your own medical practitioner.

[…] daily stretch to relieve neck and shoulder pain is included on – as well as other tools and techniques to promote pain […]

Jude Ewen January 28, 2011

Hello Jonothan,
I have a trigger point about the lower shoulder blade area, very hard to press, can you recommend something I could use as to press with my finger is difficult.
I was thinking something along the lines of a squash ball!
Regards, Jude

    Jonathan January 31, 2011

    Hi Jude,

    tennis balls, squash balls and lacrosse balls all work just fine – use the same principles of ischemic pressure to do the trigger point release.

tischambia March 27, 2011

thank you Johnathan, Im getting excruiating spasms that last up to 3-4 hours in my neck and Trapezius, will definitely try this technique.

Gail Howard March 30, 2011

I have heel pain and a nueroma in between my toes on my left foot. I have been in severe pain for 10 months. Hope that you can help.

Naomi April 8, 2011

Wonderful advice, this really helped relieve the pain i’d been experiencing in my traps. Thankyou

Jariya Chatsuwan April 29, 2011

Dear Jonathan,

Thank very much for all your information e-mails till now.
I try to follow your advices and read it again and again, I can’t go far yet.
Just want to say I really appreciate.

Best regards,

marwan May 7, 2011

i have back muscle spasm, could that cause me paralyzed?

Sore neck | Gtby1 May 31, 2011

[…] How to Stretch Your Sore Neck Muscles | Trigger Point TreatmentThis text will be replaced var so = new … hi jonathan, a wonderful technique, i was sitting with my sore neck muscles going thru the mails. got urs tried it and saw the effect. will surely try this with our patients. thanks. regards, shikha… […]

Mitchell June 28, 2011

Wow… I have been in pain all day and this video has finally given me some relief… Thanks a ton.

Jeff Blumberg July 19, 2011

The video becomes useful at 1:34 in.

[…] daily stretch to relieve neck and shoulder pain is included on – as well as other tools and techniques to promote pain […]

[…] neck stretch starts with a simple head tilt. Place your left hand on your right shoulder, and then tilt your […]

Fatuma El-Kindiy October 7, 2011

my neck has been stiff since last night. this technique works, thank you. going to try it on my elbow now.

Abdul Jussub October 28, 2011

Dear Jonathan, thank you for the video.

Do you have a youtube chanel ?

May your path of blessings.

    Jonathan October 28, 2011

    Hello Abdul,

    yes, you can find other videos of mine on Youtube here:

    all the best

Jessica Canada November 8, 2011

Wow! Neck tension and pain for days with no relief from pills or stretching…that is until I came across this video. Truly astonished. My neck is no longer stiff. Thank you!

Jonathan November 9, 2011

Fantastic! Glad to hear it Jessica

Caleb December 1, 2011

Dear Jonathan,
I’ve been trying out your stretching technique and it works wonders! I can get a good stretch on my hip flexors, quads, and neck muscles, but Im having difficulty stretching other muscles with this technique. Maybe my mind-body connection isnt strong enough? Also, After you breath out and stretch, once the muscle turns back on do you stop the stretch? Is it effective to do this multiple times in a row with one muscle? You were talking about the muscle having a spindle and letting go with relaxation. Is this the same with the myo-fascia during this stretch?


joanne seto January 1, 2012

Thank you Dr. Kuttner for sharing this video on neck stretch. I have been in pain for over three days with a tight neck, and stretching with physiotherapy methods made my neck more and more tight. I only need to do two of you neck stretches to provide relief, and it feels good when I do your stretch rather and feeling worse. I will tell my physiotherapist of your method. Is there a name to it? I will watch your other videos with extreme interest. Thank you very much again!!!

cedric February 1, 2012

Is that hypnosis cause it really worked

Kim Tully March 10, 2012

I wouldnt have thought that this would work. It seemed a bit silly to be honest but it is sooo effective and really does work!!!

[…] Tilt and Rolls There are two movements you can do to stretch out the neck muscles, which can get very strained later in life. Start off with the neck tilt. Slowly push your ear to […]

Rudy June 25, 2012

Wow. My right side opened up like never before.

Pretty unbelievable stuff.

How often should this be done or is it safe to do?

Thank you

Georgia July 17, 2012

Again, thank you. Having pain, remembered your technique, looked for a refresher and found it. Wonderful. Would be nice if it were on so I could pin it to my board on pain and depression so I could find it easier next time. I notice you have a lot of your other videos on youtube but not this one which is magical.

Thomas August 1, 2012

This is an incredible stretch technique that I’ve never heard of. It immediately relieved my neck pain from bad sleep! I have a minor form of scoliosis and this will really help! It will also be a great tool for flexibility and to train people. Thanks for the video

birthday tutus August 31, 2012

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with a few pics to drive the message home a bit, but other than that, this is wonderful blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

[…] 17.How to Stretch Your Sore Neck Muscles | Trigger Point Treatment … For this stretch you use breathing, eye movements and mind/body interaction. The key is to use … 38 comments… read them below or add one }. Pauline Sterling … I tried the move in your video and am finally experiencing some relief. Thanks! […]

Alison October 9, 2012

Hi Jonathan, thanks for the stretching sore neck muscles item above, adds onto what the physio goes over with me and provides more information too, more knowledge = self empowerment.

Dave November 9, 2012

I love you. Thank you. I thought I was going to die.

[…] one place you can discover exactly how to gently relax spasmed muscles, and turn off the fire of trigger point pain in your […]

Therese February 14, 2013

Dear Jonathon,

I am interested in the stretches & muscle release information. The neck stretch is great and I would like to see how to safely stretch all parts of my body.

Thank you

Corina Westerhof June 4, 2013

Thanks for your posting. I also feel that laptop computers have become more and more popular nowadays, and now are usually the only kind of computer found in a household. Simply because at the same time that they are becoming more and more inexpensive, their working power keeps growing to the point where they can be as powerful as personal computers through just a few years ago.

grace June 16, 2013

i already go to a woman who does trigger point fnd has for 30 yrs. the books will help me to do a lot of my own trigger points. i enjoy your videos on the website
grace November 21, 2013

My spouse and I stumbled over here different web address and thought
I might check things out. I like what I see so i am just following you.
Look forward to checking out your wweb page forr a second time.

sahar March 18, 2014

thanks for ur generousity

Claire Prudhomme March 23, 2014

Excellent information. I very much appreciate you producing all the information on trigger points and stretching.

Ann April 6, 2014

I had C5/6 fusion May 2013 but have worn facet joint C6/7 that is causing neck spasm. I watched your video on stretches and would be very interested in further knowledge. I had L5/S1 Laminectomy over 20 yrs ago and worn facet joints there too. many thanks Ann

elizabeth chua April 6, 2014

I want to find out more about stretches and muscle releases technique! these are awesome!

Charles McDonald April 10, 2014

I have had several surgeries Lumbar L1-L5 Laminotomy w/decompression w/fusion oct 2004. Cervical with fusion sept 2002, lumbar surgery Lamin/Facetectomy sept 2008.
This is my problem and it started two years ago. I have a problem with my gait i stumble i have problem with clumsiness. I have a tendensy to have to hold onto something when standing if not it is like a big magnet pulling me one sided and i have no control over it unless i touch something. I have a problem walking on uneven ground and in a crowded room.
Im open to any suggestion my physicians just look at me as if im some kind of idiot and say you just have to live with it.

Clark May 5, 2014

Hi Johnathan,

The stretching technich you have shared is the most effective technich that I have used so far.

Thenk you very much!!!!



Gerry Hallen August 27, 2014

interested in these techniqeus

Jimmie Verstegen August 27, 2014

For stretching it's always important to relax, relax and relax. Don't use force, never! Feel your body, relax and let it go. Breath gently in and out.

Paul Johnson August 28, 2014

Chronic shoulder , neck, and back pain and tingling for over 3 years

robin September 26, 2014

I have severe back problems. Need help before I go to a speacalist

Bonnie November 15, 2015

I read all your email that are sent. I am working on the tigger points where I have extreme chronic pain, and it is helping alot.

Yong Swee Hah November 24, 2015

Thank you very much.

Lisa November 25, 2015

Thank you I am learning a lot from your vidios.

zolfikar December 4, 2015

Thank you for the video

Shanda March 20, 2016

Dr Kuttner you have taught me so much in the emails I have received. I am still learning. I have pin pointed several of my problem trigger points. I feel myself gradually becoming more balanced. I look forward to learning more of your life after pain techniques. My body has become so thoroughly unbalanced the right side of my face pulls down and to the side and my eye . Oh my thank you for the knowledge I soon hope to find what will release my right facial features.

dennis powers May 2, 2016

I got that big blue book on trigger points massage (Tavel and Simmons? cant recall) years ago. Anyway I went through almost every muscle and had a lot of good results. Except for my neck pain. I have worked the Sternomascaloid and the traps and the scalene and a couple others with fingers and theracane. The scalenes continue to hurt. and yes I may have your head forward problem you talk about.

carolyn February 13, 2017

This kind of stretching has helped me so much! I’m finding a new freedom after listening to this, reading your book and practicing each day. By gently working with my body, my pain has subsided tremendously. Thank-you. Thank-you.

Becky February 28, 2017

Interested in muscle release techniques. Thank you

Janet August 30, 2017

This is a GREAT video I’ a practicing massage therapy x13 years. I suffer from whiplash 10 yrs ago always have tight neck and shoulders. Any other stretches I can do for continue tight cervical

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