This may seem intuitive but a 2011 research study of 401 people in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that massage therapy is effective for the treatment of low back pain with benefits lasting atleast 6 months after receiving weekly massages for 10 weeks. This study looked primarily at low back pain, but other studies show benefits for the neck/upper back as well.
There was no difference between the type of massage: relaxation massages or more structural massages. Both types of massages were generally effective. So you don’t need a painful or deep tissue massage to see a benefit.
One can always review these options with a specialist if unsure. There are certain conditions which may not benefit or may not be appropriate for massage therapy, but it’s still generally a safe, reasonable, and conservative option for most people.
Cherkin DC, Sherman KJ, Kahn J, Wellman R, Cook AJ, Johnson E, et al. A comparison of the effects of two types of massage and usual care on chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(1):1–9.