I’ve had issues with my neck and shoulders for over ten years. Every now and then one side locks up so much that I can’t turn my head, or even get out of bed. It got so bad once, when I was in Cambodia, that I had to go to the hospital and get some injections to relax everything. I ended up flying home in a very fetching cervical collar neck brace – and had to wear it in the Vogue office that whole week. (I did cover it with a Chanel scarf but still….)

Over the years I’ve seen numerous chiros, osteos, acupuncturists and physios (who referred to it as an “acute wry neck”) and I didn’t have much luck getting rid of it until recently. After trying everything out of sheer desperation I stumbled across a combo of coping mechanisms and wanted to share as I know how many people suffer from back and neck distress. Hopefully some of these tips will help you, too.


Dry needling is similar to acupuncture, in that the practitioner inserts super fine needles into the knots in your muscles (known as trigger points) to help break them up. It works faster than massage and is less painful than having a super firm bed-gripping back pummel (trust me, the needles are so tiny you barely feel them). It works every time for me – often a single session will relieve the tightness and it never progresses to an all-out lock down or decrease in motion.

“Massage is good for lighter stiffness, lighter pain, but dry needling is deeper and more therapeutic. It’s good for chronic problems and acute pain,” explains Sohal ShahCrown Spa’s visiting wellness consultant, who is currently offering dry needling and pain management sessions at Crown Spa in Melbourne. During his sessions he also works with relaxation and reiki techniques and he manipulates the needle gently, a unique technique I hadn’t experienced but one I felt was really effective. “This slow vibration and operation of the needle helps you relax further,” he says.



A form of self-massage, foam rolling is a great way to manage the tension build-up that can cause back and neck pain. Whenever I watch TV I get on my yoga mat and use a variety of different shaped balls and rollers (my favourite are by Blackroll) and I get right into the tense parts of my back – there are different moves to reach different areas of tension. You can experiment with what feels good, search Youtube or Blackroll have an amazing app where you can input your pain areas and it gives you a range of exercises to do to assist. To get the full impact you should roll each area for 1-2 minutes and it’s quite painful which can be off-putting but stick with it – you’ll get so much relief.


We all know how connected the mind and the body are. When we’re stressed we often hold tension in the body – particularly if we have an area of weakness. So managing the source of the stress is a great place to start – whether that’s through yoga, meditation or deep breathing. I practice Vedic Meditation (I did an amazing course with The Broad Place recently) and I find when I meditate my incidences of back and neck pain decrease significantly. I also sleep better. In his dry needling sessions, Sha combines uses breathing and relaxation as well. “This is so that you get involved in the treatment too. Self-relaxation and breathing also help a lot with pain,” he explains


There are copious amounts of consumer goods targeting the pain-affected end of the market and I’ve probably tried most of them with varying success (ordering every back related product ever launched through the home shopping network is not always the answer). There are a few that I like though: Upright Go is a little gadget that you stick between your shoulder blades. It talks to an app on your phone which coaches you slowly to better posture. A more old-school way to do it is with the Blackroll Posture – it’s a brace you wear under your clothes that helps correct slumpy shoulders. Finally, the Neck Hammock is a clever concept – it creates traction (stretching out the vertebrae) for your neck at home – you just hook it over a door handle and lie back letting your head relax into the hammock. If you can manage to five or ten minutes a day to lie back in it, I found it really does help alleviate the tension and strain in your neck. I’m also super keen of get my hands on the Theragun G3PRO  – a ‘”percussive therapy” device that has the whole fitness industry talking. It provides deep vibrational massage to reduce pain and improve mobility.

5) Massage

I think most things in life can be sorted out with massage. In fact nothing makes me happier. If you suffer from neck and back pain, my tip is to always make sure you find a therapist that is trained in remedial massage rather than relaxation – the two are markedly different. Book a Deep Tissue or Therapeutic Massage at Crown Spa Melbourne or Perth and you can be sure your massage therapist will be able to deliver the goods. It’s always my first port of call when I’m travelling to either city. There’s a special offer running at the moment…


Save 30% on all wellness consultations with Sohal Shah for the month of April at Crown Spa Melbourne,* and save 20% on all Therapeutic and Deep Tissue massages for the month of April at Crown Spas Perth and Melbourne.**


Story by Sigourney Cantelo, photography by Alice Mahran.

*Terms and conditions: available until 30 April 2019. Advanced bookings are essential. Offer subject to availability. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. A three hour cancellation policy applies or the full fee will be charged. Valet parking at Crown Towers free for first four hours. Thereafter standard rates apply. Valet parking is dependent upon availability.

**Terms and conditions: available Monday to Thursday in Perth, and Monday to Friday in Melbourne until 30 April 2019, excluding public holidays. Some blackout periods or limited availability may apply to event periods. Advanced bookings are essential. Offer subject to availability. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. A three hour cancellation policy applies or the full fee will be charged. Valet parking at Crown Towers free for first four hours. Thereafter standard rates apply. Valet parking is dependent upon availability.

Comment (6)

  1. April 9, 2019

    Thank you for your amazing tips. I’m going to book the dry needling today . Xx

  2. April 11, 2019

    I feel for you. I had exactly the same for years. Did the rounds of physio, chiro, massage. Could not get out of bed. Only muscle relaxing meds helped but they made me sleepy.
    But!,, it’s the nature of your job. Repetitive looking down. I’m a teacher. Constantly looking down to mark books , write programs. Looking down at iPad.
    I had to change the way I did these things. Looking out or up . Opposite actions to what was causing the tension.
    Lots of walking, stretching , some weights.
    I don’t have any trouble now.

  3. April 11, 2019

    The shakti mat is brilliant!