Can I use a neck massager while pregnant?
While this is a broad topic affected by numerous factors depending on the individual pregnant woman and her unique circumstances, the answer is usually yes. In fact, most of the concerns that doctors who specialize in obstetrics and gynaecology have are related to the lower back and areas that could influence the fetus in utero. These massaging devices are an excellent way to reduce stress and discomfort and can be employed while in a wide range of positions while standing, lying in bed, relaxing on a couch and so forth.
What are neck massages and are they safe?
A massage involves pressure on the body. This pressure can work out knots and improve blood flow and therefore reduce or even eliminate stress and pain. A neck massage involves these pressures as high up as the base of the skull, around the sides up to the throat and down into the shoulders. Such massages are often conducted by hand by either a massage therapist or a partner but, in this case, are performed using a device that can be either manual or electric in nature.
Kneading and other manipulation of the neck by hand or using a neck massager is generally regarded as safe for all people, including pregnant woman. However, you should always consult with a physician to ensure that the advice for the general population is suitable to you and your pregnancy. Also, be mindful that neck-related therapies should only ever release tightness and diminish pain. If you experience discomfort, stop immediately and try a different approach. If pain persists, stop completely and contact your doctor. Other reasons to cease massaging and contact a physician include experiencing:
- Elevated heart rate
Preparing for and carrying out your massage
Professional massage therapists generally recommend that you seek a relaxed state prior to beginning your massage. This is as true for at-home massages as it is for in-spa bodywork. The appropriate way to get into a relaxed state will vary from one woman to the next. You may know what your de-stressors are, or you may have to discover them through trial and error. It’s a good idea to gather any needed equipment, such as your neck massager, beforehand so that when you start to relax, everything is convenient. Some relaxation techniques that work for many women include:
- Taking a shower
- Drinking a glass of water
- Listening to calming music
- Wearing loose-fitting clothing
- Removing makeup and washing the face
Get into a comfortable position wherever you intend to be for an extended period. You can move during the massage as necessary, but you’ll generally want to be as still and relaxed as possible. If the unit you’re using is strapped around the neck or similar, don that equipment and get everything into position. Worn massagers should fit snugly around the neck but not create pressure or discomfort. You can target discomfort in a particular area if your device allows it, but you’ll ordinarily want to target the entire neck or as much as that particular product allows. Remember: if you experience any pain, stop what you’re doing and change it up. If that pain persists, stop completely and call your physician.
Neck Massaging Device Types and Features
The four common types of neck massager are:
- Electric worn
- Electric handheld
- Manual worn
- Manual handheld
All four types can be used during pregnancy unless otherwise advised by a physician. Worn options are useful in that they take the work out of a self-massage. You can simply relax and enjoy the experience. The downside to a worn device is that it’s often more difficult to target a particular problem area. Handheld massagers tend to more convenient in this regard. Electric allows for a more intense massage than would be possible by hand as well as some special features, but manual devices give you complete control. Many pregnant women prefer to have multiple kinds available so that they can choose based on how they feel in the moment.
Neck massagers seek to emulate a particular kind of massage performed by hand. Some units have but a single mode. Others have multiple modes from which you can select. These include:
All of these massage modes are suitable during pregnancy. The ideal mode for you will largely depend on your preferences and how you’re feeling in that particular moment. It may be necessary to try different options to determine what feels best at any given time.
Electric products often offer additional features. Perhaps the most popular of those is heat and electric pulse. Heat can be added to your massage in order to motivate muscles to relax faster as well as promote blood flow. Electric stimulation provides another means through which to work muscles and tendons, and many products offer both vibration and electric pulse so that those actions can be used in tandem.
Note that the information provided here applies specifically to neck massages. Doctors have different concerns when it comes to the lower back, for instance, because that discomfort is often sciatica-related. Finally, doctors recommend that you never fall asleep while using an automated massager while pregnant. If you feel yourself falling asleep, turn the device off, enjoy your nap and then, use it again later when you can remain in a relaxed state without sleeping.
How do you use a neck massager?
Clinical studies have shown that massage therapies can relieve pain and other discomfort in the short-term and even over the long-term. These techniques can also improve blood flow, eliminate headaches and stretch and relax muscles. Although massages are often performed by a masseuse or a partner, self-massages can achieve these results as well, particularly if you have a neck massager and know how to use it.
Getting to Know Your Massaging Equipment
Various massaging devices are available. You may even have multiple options on hand, and it’s very important to learn the controls, features and so forth. If the device is new, start by unboxing it, making sure that all parts are included, performing any required assembly and then testing the product to ensure at least basic operation.
Read the owner’s manual from cover to cover. Even if your device is manually operated and handheld, the manual can make points you may overlook as a new user as well as identify potential risks that you should heed.
Preparing for Your Neck Massage
You may be enthused to pick up your massager and begin using it as soon as you feel stress, a headache, discomfort or whatever, and in the end, you may find that that approach works for you best. Nevertheless, most professional massage therapists recommend preparing for your massage. The underlying concept is that a state of relaxation will allow the massage to affect you faster and in a deeper and longer-lasting manner.
How you should put yourself in that state of mind and body depends very much on you as an individual. Some techniques work great for some but not at all for others. If you’re new to self-massaging, then some trial and error may be required to determine what works best. Steps that you can work into your routine include:
- Relaxing to music
- Enjoying a hot shower
- Drinking cool water
- Eating a light, healthy snack
Conducting Your Neck Massage
Have all of your massaging equipment conveniently available before you begin to relax. This way, when you’re relaxed and ready to begin your massage, you can start without delay. If your massager is worn about the neck, configure it so that it fits you snugly but does not create pressure and certainly not any discomfort. If you’re using a shiatsu-style handheld massager, then simply drape it around your neck gently as needed.
Usually, you’ll want to work the entire neck. This is what neck-worn massagers will generally do by default. If your unit is able to target particular zones and you’re experiencing tightness, discomfort or whatever in a particular area, then you can zero in on it. However, avoid focusing on any area exclusively or if it’s uncomfortable, and be mindful that reference pain can actually lead you to massage areas that aren’t in fact the culprit.
Focusing Trigger Points by Hand
Many shiatsu neck massagers are handheld so that you can target specific trigger points and can knead them in a very focused and deep manner. Most of these units have adjustable knobs so that you can dictate two or four points of contact. Two points allows for a deeper massage. Four points will spread the pressure out and affect more of the neck. In either case, you’ll want to move the massager up and down and in circular fashion stopping to apply more rigorous action in those areas that demand it.
Massage Types and Features
The various neck massagers available offer different types of massaging actions. Some products even offer multiple modes and let you combine actions. Which works best for you depends on your preferences and whatever stress or discomfort you’re currently experiencing. Some of the options you have to choose from include a:
- Rolling motion that strokes the neck
- Vibration that shakes the muscles and blood vessels
- Kneading action that can penetrate deep to nerves and glands
- Percussion action that strikes and thumps but without bruising
- Compression motion that employs light to heavy pressure to temporarily numb
Electric models can also offer additional features. The most common of these are heat and electrical stimulation. Products that offer heat usually have a remote and let you adjust the temperature. Warmed muscles tend to relax faster. Electrical stimulation is another massaging action that stimulates tissue and muscles with light electrical pulses. Many people enjoy combining this stimulation with vibration and other actions.
What to Watch for as You Massage
There’s no right massage length. It just depends. You need to pay attention to your body and respond accordingly. If you ever feel lightheaded, nauseous or whatever, take a break. Be mindful that a massage should relieve discomfort, and if an action ever creates it, then you should cease and try something else. Sleeping during an automated massage isn’t necessarily bad but it can be problematic in terms of tiring a muscle and actually creating residual discomfort. Rigorous massages in moderation are all right for your body, but there’s a fine line between good discomfort and bad discomfort when it comes to deep, forceful massages.
Note: If you continue to feel discomfort or dizziness, for instance, while performing a certain action or massaging in general, then you should stop using your neck massager and consult your doctor.
Neck Massager for Tension Headaches
The recurring headaches as well as neck and shoulder pain that many people experience are due to tension. Tension is caused by stress but also poor posture, bad sleeping positions, a lack of exercise and even diet. Such pain can be widespread or felt as knots—otherwise known as trigger points. Targeting tension headaches with a neck massager has been proven clinically effective and can actually provide ongoing benefits, which includes reducing:
- Trigger points
- Muscle spasms
- Distress symptoms
- Sleep disturbances
- Tension headache occurrences
Choosing a Neck Massager
There are many different massagers available, and some are more effective than others at relieving tension headaches. In addition, those that are effective may be more or less successful depending on the pain you’re experiencing at any given time. Massage experts often recommend having at least one electric device for hands-free use and a manual handheld massager that you can use to target and deeply massage certain trigger points.
Electric vs. Manual and Worn vs. Handheld
A manual massager creates movement on your neck by you using one or both hands. Electric units, on the other hand, are battery-powered. Handheld electric products require you to direct the action by hand, but the worn options can continue to massage while you relax. Often, massaging the muscles at the base of the skull is necessary to relieve tension, so you should target devices that can access that area with ease and comfort.
Massaging action varies from one product to the next. Some units offer multiple actions, and some even allow those actions to be combined. These actions include vibration, percussion, compression and so forth. Be mindful that with a tension headache you’ll generally want to be able to target trigger points and affect them in a deep manner. Therefore, massagers that knead and/or can perform a percussion action are particularly effective. These can then be combined with a rolling or vibrating action to involve all or most of the neck.
Electrical Muscle Stimulation
Electrical massagers also offer the option of electrical stimulation. This kind of stimulation is generally in addition to the physical action. It can help to relax muscles faster. It can also improve blood flow, and restricted flow is often a leading cause of many symptoms that people experience during a tension headache.
Many massaging products on the market also provide heat and a remote temperature control. Heat therapy has proven very effective for relieving tension headaches due its ability to expand and relax muscles quickly. It’s like taking a hot shower or using a heating pad to relieve a headache. The benefit being that the heat is applied directly to the neck without interfering with the massaging action and while allowing you to relax completely.
Preparing to Relieve Your Tension Headaches
Medical professionals and massage therapists agree that neck massaging is often an effective treatment for tension headaches. Note that if you experience such headaches frequently or experience additional discomfort during the massage, you should consult with your physician before continuing with neck massages.
Note also that you can combine other over-the-counter remedies with your massage. Taking aspirin, ibuprofen or your preferred headache medicine prior to your massage can help you to relax and speed up the process. Take these medicines with cool water and perhaps a healthy, light snack.
If you’re new to massages, it may seem odd to relax in order to relax, but the fundamental idea is to achieve as much relaxation as possible so that the massage can have a greater and faster effect. In other words, put yourself in a state of mind to relax. How you should do that depends very much on your personal preferences. Some people take a hot shower beforehand while others meditate or relax to the sounds of nature or calming music.
Conducting Your Tension Headache-Relieving Massage
Select the neck massager most appropriate to what you’re feeling in your neck. If you can feel particular knots, then perhaps begin with something like a shiatsu massager. If you’re using an electric massage, try the percussion setting or a kneading action or some other movement that creates a deep sensation. If you have a massager that allows for multiple modes simultaneously, then you can test various combinations until you find what feels best. Relief from a tension headache shouldn’t involve any additional discomfort and it should feel almost euphoric.
Target the Entire Neck
You can stop to perform vigorous action on problematic trigger points. Just don’t dwell on them. Reference pain can often misguide you. Treating the entire neck can also support affecting tissues and the like.
Work Up and Down
Work the entire neck by going up and then back down. Start near the shoulders and travel to the base of the skull. If you have an electric model that offers a rolling action, activate that in combination with kneading.
Work in a Circular Motion
Employ a circular motion as you go up and down. This involves other muscles and avoids working any one muscle in just one direction. It also does wonders for circulation.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Modern neck massagers offer many options. Stick to the fundamentals discussed here, but don’t be afraid to mix and match to find what works for you overall or for a particular tension headache.
Neck Massager with Heat: This Is How They Work
Adding heat to a massage is a popular way to relax muscle and tissue faster and more effectively. It is so effective and also safe that it’s recommended by many doctors and massage therapists. It used to be that a person had to go to a spa to get a hot massage, but that’s no longer the case. With the invention of electric-powered personal massagers, heated massages in the home have become both accessible and affordable.
Heat Massage Therapy
In order to understand how heated neck massages work, it helps to appreciate what heat massage therapy is and why it’s used in doctors’ offices as well as spas. The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy has published a number of high-profile studies demonstrating how effectively heat enhances flexibility. Decreased flexibility and range of motion in muscles is caused due to contraction. The heat causes the muscle to expand and therefore become more flexible. What does this have to do with massage? Well, much of the tightness and discomfort that we experience in our necks is due to the inflexibility of muscle and soft tissue.
Heat for therapeutic purposes is actually effective on its own, and many massage products on the market that offer heat have a heat-only mode as well. That said, heat actually enhances the physical action from massages, and that’s why these two approaches work so well together. The aforementioned scientific journal found that maximum muscle relief was achieved by combining heat with stretching, and stretching the muscles and tissues is effectively what a massager is doing. In addition, the American Heart Association has published reports concerning how both heat and massage increase blood flow and how the benefits can be maximized by combining these effects.
Types of Heated Neck Massagers
There are may different types of heated massagers appropriate for your neck on the market. A variety of massaging actions are available as well, such as vibrating, kneading, rolling, percussion, compression and so forth.
- Rechargeable batteries
- AC power adapters
- Support for car adapters
Heating Elements and Contacts
Most heated massaging equipment works via infrared heating. Infrared heating works by transferring energy to a surface at a lower temperature through electromagnetic radiation. This heating type can heat entire homes and buildings, but it’s particularly effective in scenarios such as this. A small area, such as your neck, can be heated in a very efficient manner. In addition, it’s very safe in terms of maintaining temperatures that are appropriate for contact with the human skin. In other words, there’s little to no chance of burning yourself with these massagers.
Many massaging products designed for the neck have multiple knobs. Internally, there will be two, four or more massaging mechanisms that turn and twist and whatnot. On each of these mechanisms are two to four legs or knobs. These are the direct contact points for the massage. Often, the infrared heating elements are built directly into these knobs so that when the heat is on, it transfers from the knob to your skin as the massager works its magic. If the heat is adjustable, these elements will become more or less intense as needed. In addition to the heating elements and contacts, there are four other parts of heated massaging equipment that’s important to understand. That is:
- Remote controls
- Overheat protection
- Automatic shutoff
Some heated neck massagers are basic and have just an on/off button for the heat. In that case, the element is calibrated for a particular temperature. Consumers should determine what that temperature is and whether it’s appropriate to them. Most heated solutions are more advanced and offer an integrated thermostat. You can raise it and lower it as needed, and the response will be almost immediate due to the small surface area. This is a nice touch in that your heating preferences will often been different in warmer months than colder months.
Many products offer a remote control that lets you enable the heat, adjust the temperature and activate modes and features. Having a control close to your hand is much more convenient that having to reach to your neck. These controls usually aren’t like TV remotes. Often, they are connected to the massager via a heavy-duty cable, or in the case of products that have flaps that extend over the chest, they can be integrated directly into those.
Overheat protection is a built-in mechanism that monitors heat as well as the thermostat itself. If there are signs that the thermostat is malfunctioning or there is excess heat, this failsafe kicks in and disables the device. As mentioned, infrared heating is unlikely to overheat, but it can happen, and there can be outside factors as well.
Automatic shutoff, also known as timer-based shutoff, is a safety mechanism that turns the neck massager off after a certain period—often 10 minutes or so. A heated massage can be so relaxing that you drift off to sleep, and this protection ensures that the device doesn’t continue running while you’re asleep. Additionally, many medical professionals don’t recommend heat therapy unsupervised for periods longer than 20 minutes. Therefore, this safeguard ensures that you know exactly how long you’ve been using it.
Neck Massager While Driving: Five Important Tips!
Using a neck massager while driving is among the most popular uses of such products. Driving can be tiring, uncomfortable and stressful, and long commutes and long-distance trips that exacerbate that wear. A massager can revitalize you. In fact, studies have shown greater alertness due to the improved blood flow. It can also help to alleviate and stave off the shoulder and back stiffness that can sometimes occur while driving. With that in mind, here are five pro tips to be aware of before the next time you use your massager while driving.
Tip #1: Take Safety Precautions
Tip #1: Take Safety Precautions
Take basic driving precautions for your own safety as well. Set up your massager before you ever start your car. Make sure the worn unit is comfortable. If you’re attached to a power adapter or similar, ensure that the shift stick is free and clear and that any cabling is out of the way in general. Avoid driving while tired. Avoid using a massager while driving and tired as well. We did mention that massagers can improve circulation through better blood flow, and while that’s true, many kinds of massaging action and any heat can actually help put a tired person to sleep.
Tip #2: Optimize Seating and Posture
Tip #2: Optimize Seating and Posture
Once you have you’re seating situation worked out, you ought to focus on posture. Good posture requires a straight back, shoulders squared off and chin high. This will actually make you a more aware driver as well. Now, if you’ve developed bad posture habits over the years, maintaining good posture while driving will be easier said than done. It will require some effort. Furthermore, you’ll need to put that effort in while sitting at your desk in the office and at home. The good news is that with a concerted effort, it doesn’t take that long. It will also increase the effectiveness of a neck massager and actually lessen the symptoms that motivate you to use one in the first place.
Tip #3: Cushion Your Back and Buttocks
Tip #3: Cushion Your Back and Buttocks
Many types of driving cushions are available, and these can enhance your massage as well as your driving experience in general. Some are a single piece. Others are two separate pieces. You also don’t necessarily need something soft. Some drivers will prefer a firmer support, and others will opt for a product with a bit more give. Such cushions can wear down surprisingly fast if you drive a lot, so keep an eye on them, and replace as needed.
Tip #4: Change Up the Massaging Action
Tip #4: Change Up the Massaging Action
Some of the top products on the market come with preconfigured massage programs as well as programmable profiles. Randomized massages are also an option. There are even a few products that can coincide with your music and adjust the massage based on the intensity and beat. Whichever direction you opt to go, the key is to keep things fresh so that you’re not bored mentally or in terms of your body.
Tip #5: Consider Integration with Your Vehicle’s Navigation
Tip #5: Consider Integration with Your Vehicle’s Navigation
Not all worn personal massagers on the market will support this. In fact, as of this writing, most don’t. Nevertheless, products designed specifically for drivers are becoming more prevalent, and these designs are beginning to take advantage of some of the advanced features to which drivers have access. These units often connect via Bluetooth. In some cases, they can be controlled by voice, and in other cases, a control panel is presented on screen so that you can adjust the massaging action, lower the heat, turn on the electric pulse and so forth.
How to Perform a Shiatsu Massage with a Neck Massager
The focus is on stretching tissues and muscles as well as manipulating them deeply in order to cause contracted muscles to relax. Heat can also be used to great effect in this process. While shiatsu massages were once the sole domain of professional masseuses, it’s now possible for anyone to do it at home with a neck massager.
Types of Massagers That You Can Use for a Shiatsu Massage
You’ll find many different types of massagers on the market. These include manual, electric, handheld and worn. Not all of them are suitable for a shiatsu massage. Among the most readily accessible options is actually called a shiatsu massager. It’s generally forked and has two handles. The knobs are at the bend between the two handles. You place it over your neck, and then use the two handles to move the device across your neck. While this approach isn’t as slick as the electric options, it does let you knead into the trigger points as vigorously as you can handle it.
The other option—which is becoming increasingly more common—is electric and worn about the neck. They often have flaps that extend over the chest and may contain controls or be wired to a remote. The surface area of the massager covers the entire neck from the base of the skull down to the shoulder and often including the sides of the neck. Inside are knobs similar to those on a handheld shiatsu massager, but they work automatically.
Opt for an Appropriate Massaging Action
There are a wide variety of massages, and the many neck massagers on the market seek to emulate them. Some products perform just one massaging actions. Others perform multiple, and others still can actually combine these approaches. To perform a shiatsu massage, you generally want to manipulate trigger points—or knots—and do so vigorously. Therefore, you’ll generally want to target a kneading action or a percussion action. Massagers marketed as shiatsu will generally offer one or both.
As mentioned, many of the best products on the market will actually allow you to combine massaging actions. If you have that option, you should feel free to experiment to find what works best for you. Start with a base that works the trigger points and make changes from there. Many shiatsu massagers combine kneading and vibration, but you can try compression, rolling or whatever helps to extend the massage throughout the neck.
Apply Heat If Available
Heat is a wonderful complement to a shiatsu massage. If you have it available, use it, and if you’re still selecting your neck massager, be sure to choose one that provides it as an option. In fact, the combination of heat therapy and massage is so effective that chiropractors and other doctors use it in addition to it being a staple at spas. Ideally, you should target a product that has a thermostat and a timer. This lets you adjust the temperature based on the weather or how you feel, and a timer ensures that it doesn’t continue running if you fall asleep.
Target Trigger Points
A key component of a shiatsu massage is manipulating trigger points. You don’t have to know where the trigger points are. For the purpose of a neck message, you can focus on those zones that are tight and often throbbing. Many people refer to these as knots. A great benefit of a handheld device is that you can really dig into those knots. The electric units generally have less control but will manipulate those areas with each pass. This is a great reason to have one of each kind. You can begin with the handheld style to really relax the sorest points, and then, you can transition to the electric when those focal points are less noticeable. Be mindful that trigger point manipulation should bring relief and even euphoria but never actual discomfort. If you experience pain, ease off.
Use an Up-and-Down Action
It’s generally recommended that a shiatsu neck massage using a handheld or electric neck massager be performed with an up-and-down action. Start near the shoulders as low as you can go on the neck. Work your way up into the base of the skull and into those crucial neck muscles that reside there. Then, work your way back down. When you reach the shoulders, begin the process anew. This can be done by hand, but electric massages generally have a rolling action or similar that accomplishes the same.
At the Same Time, Use a Circular Motion
It’s very important to use a circular motion as you go up and down. This helps to involve other areas of the neck beyond the trigger points. It also ensures that muscle and tissue are manipulated in multiple directions rather than with the same style of stroke over and over again. It is most important to pay attention to this with handhelds. Electric shiatsu massagers will generally offer vibration or another action that achieves a similar effect.
Prep and Augment Your Massage
Many professional massage therapists recommend trying to relax before starting to use your neck massager. Depending on your preferences, you can listen to music, meditate or take a hot shower. This will help prepare the muscles in your neck. Likewise, a hand massage as a precursor to all other massages is often used in shiatsu. Many masseuses agree that aromatherapy can have a therapeutic effect alone or when combined with shiatsu. Eucalyptus oils in particular are often preferred because it makes it easier to breathe, which adds oxygen to the blood and enhances blood flow as well as offers many other positive effects.