I’ve started to nickname this muscle ‘Troublesome Trapezius’. It’s one we tend to work on a lot here at Huddersfield Sports Massage Therapy and it’s the first muscle that gets affected when we are stressed or hold poor posture. The trapezius muscle commonly produces sore muscle knots and trigger points which cause headaches and sometimes migraines. Main sufferers are office workers and those who train hard and a lot with weights, some runners also tend to hold tension in this muscle rather than being relaxed with the shoulders.
When The Trapezius Isn’t Working Well?
If you aren’t holding them in the proper position, the muscles can lengthen or shorten and cause problems. The upper trapezius muscle can shorten beyond its optimal length in certain situations; for example, when the shoulder is elevated and the neck is extended, side-bent and rotated, as when you are cradling a phone between your ear and shoulder. Throughout the day, this might happen to the upper trapezius muscle, while, alternatively, the rhomboids (muscles connecting the shoulder blade to the vertebrae) might be overly lengthened when the shoulders are rounded. Moving out of these positions from time to time throughout the workday will increase blood flow and oxygen delivery to the muscles. Developing better posture will help maintain the optimal length of the muscles.
Exercises At Work Or Home
Sitting with upright posture, perform 15–20 reps of the following exercises every hour when you are at your desk for upper trapezius pain.
1. Scapular Pinches.** Roll the shoulders back, and pinch the shoulder blades together.
2. Shoulder Shrugs.** Raise the shoulders up toward the ears, then lower them back down.
3. Neck Side-Bending.** Tilt one ear toward the shoulder, and hold briefly. Repeat on the opposite side.
4. Neck Rotation.** Look over one shoulder, and pause briefly. Repeat on the opposite side.
If you feel tight or sore in the upper trapezius after the above movement-oriented exercises, perform 1–3 reps of the following static stretch, holding each rep for 30 seconds.
5. Neck Side-Bending/Rotation Stretch.**
- In a standing or seated position, place the right hand on top of the head and let the left arm rest at the side.
- Gently pull the head toward the right shoulder with the right hand.
- Rotate the head down and look at the right hip. (The stretch should be felt on the left side of the neck/shoulder area.)
- Repeat on the opposite side.
If your shoulders tend to round forward, you can improve this condition by the scapular pinch and by a pectorals stretch.