You are hereTension in Your Trapezius?
Tension in Your Trapezius?
The trapezius is a large flat muscle that extends from the skull and spinal column medially to the pectoral girdle laterally. It is the most superficial back muscle and covers the neck region and upper part of the trunk. The trapezius muscle acts to stabilize, elevate, adduct, and depress the scapula (shoulder blades), and extend, bend sideways and rotate the head.
I could spend a lot of time going over the anatomy of the shoulder girdle, but I do not think it will really help you. Let me just say that that if your trapezius gets tight, it can cause the dreaded neck "crick", burning shoulders, headaches, throbbing pain between the shoulder blades and more. Today I want to show you a few stretches for this muscle. Next week I will address some exercises that can help if you have a strength imbalance in the muscle (forward rounded shoulder are a result of weaker upper trap muscles, for example).
Here are some trapezius stretches (great after todays w.o.d.!). Hold each one 30-60 seconds.
Simply stand in a squatting position and grab onto a pole or door handle--something that you can put your weight on and pull away from. Keeping the arms straight and feet firmly planted, lean away.
Sitting in a chair, reach your right hand across your body to grab the outside of your left foot. Pull away from your foot. Your should feel the stretch in the middle part of the right side of your back. Switch sides.
Place your fingers on the back of your neck. Lightly pull your chin towards your chest. Use your fingers to increase the stretch, but do not press too hard.
Reach your right hand to your left ear. Lightly pull your head towards the right as you depress your left shoulder. You should feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Switch sides.
Stand upright in a door way, facing the doorjamb. Bring left arm across body towards the right shoulder. Pointing the thumb down, grab hold of the doorjamb at shoulder level with your left arm. Rotate your trunk inward until you feel a stretch in the back of your shoulder. Switch sides.
Bring your left arm over your head to your right ear. Look down to your left armpit. Lightly press your chin towards the armpit as you depress your right shoulder. Switch sides.
Turn to look over your left shoulder. Then lift your chin to look towards the ceiling. You should feel this stretch in the front of your neck (where my finger is pointing, the sternocleidomastoid muscle). Switch sides.
Lastly, tightness in your traps can be caused by tight chest muscles. Here is one stretch you can do for your pectorals. Stand upright facing a doorway. Place one arm against the doorway. Twist yourself away from the door way so that you feel the stretch in your chest. You can change where you feel the stretch by the placement of your arm--lower or higher will change where you are stretching.