In today’s post, I’m going to show you exactly how to fix trapezius pain and how to prevent it from coming back. I’ll explain (in simple terms) how this pain develops and demonstrate stretches and exercises to help you.
Trapezius pain can radiate all the way down to the mid-back. I’ll be discussing how to address this as well by including release tutorials for the trapezius and the muscles located next to the trapezius and have similar functions.
Here’s what this post will cover:
- Why You Keep Getting Trapezius Pain
- Step 1: Is The Trapezius Overactive?
- Step 2: Release Trapezius Tightness
- Step 3: Trapezius Stretches
- Step 4: 6 Trapezius Strengthening Exercises
I tried to make this guide as complete and thorough as possible. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment!
Trapezius Muscle Location And Functions
I want to quickly explain the functions of the trapezius muscle because this will help you better release it later on. When you know how the muscle looks and where its locations you can target it better.
The Trapezius Muscle 3 Parts
Upper trapezius: Primary functions are cervical extension, lateral flexion, rotation, and scapular elevation (what would look like is elevating your shoulder up towards your ear.
Middle trapezius: Its primary function is scapular retraction.
Lower trapezius: Primary function is scapular depression and that’s when you pull your shoulders back and down. A download movement.
Another muscle that will also release is the levator scapulae because it accomplishes many similar functions of the trapezius muscle such as cervical extension, lateral flexion, and ipsilateral rotation.
Why You Keep Getting Trapezius Pain
When you experience trapezius pain (or any muscular pain), please remember that there is always a cause behind it.
The most common causes of trapezius muscle pain are overuse and misuse.
It’s not uncommon to experience trapezius strains or injuries during weight lifting.
Here are the common movement patterns or daily habits that can contribute to trapezius pain (when all combined):
- Typing for long periods of time. Especially if the desk height makes you elevate your shoulder to reach the keyboard. Check my video tutorial here on how to sit properly to avoid muscular pain.
- Shrugging one shoulder up to hold the phone between the shoulder and the ear.
- Carrying a backpack or bag on one side.
- Repetitive movements like playing the guitar can tighten the elevated arm side.
- Sitting hunched over
- Pulling the head forward to read small text on the desktop monitor for hours each day (this promoted forward head posture which triggers upper back pain).
Now, I want to share with you simple assessment exercises to figure out if the trapezius is indeed overactive and needs to be released.
Sometimes we can be dealing with referred pain, and these exercises will confirm if the pain is coming from a tight overactive trapezius.