What is the Trapezius Muscle?
The trapezius muscle, also known as the traps, is a large muscle group that extends from the occipital bone in the skull down to your thoracic spine and along the width of your shoulders.
It is amongst the largest muscles superficial muscles in your body and is divided into three segments, each responsible for allowing different body movements:
- Descending (superior): This segment is responsible for stabilising and elevating your shoulder blades and helping with neck movements such as tilts and rotations.
- Middle: This part of the muscle allows you to move your shoulder blades back and their stabilisation during arm movements.
- Ascending (inferior): This part of the trapezius muscle allows for bringing your shoulder blades down and stabilising the mid-spinal region.
What causes Trapezius Muscle Pain?
One of the main reasons why any group of muscles go into spasm or give you pain is because of inactivity. Unlike the muscles in your legs, back, and arms, the trapezius muscles largely remain inactive throughout the day.
Here are some of the most common reasons why trapezius muscles pain:
- In the absence of shoulder and neck movements, particularly trapezius muscle stretch.
- Trauma or injury
- Playing sports or doing physical activities that overuse your trapezius muscles. These include sports like swimming or picking heavy objects.
- Poor posture that involves holding your head forward for long.
- Sitting in a chair for long without a proper armrest or back support.
- Carrying heavy bags or purses for long durations.
- Not getting adequate rest.
- Excessive stress-related tension.
Here are some signs and symptoms that accompany pain in your trapezius muscles:
- Muscular stiffness.
- Constant neck or shoulder pain.
- Muscle spasms.
- Numbness or tingling in one or both arms.
- Reduced range of motion in the shoulders or neck.
How Does Stretching Help in Trapezius Muscle Pain?
Those who workout, know the importance of stretching and how it relaxes your muscles and preps you for a good workout session. When done at the end of your workout, it helps your muscles cool down. The same goes for trapezius stretching.
Here are some of the most important benefits of stretching for trapezius :
- Trapezius muscle stretch helps relieve pain in your shoulders, neck, and back. This happens because trapezius stretching improves your blood circulation, which in turn helps these muscles relax and warm up. This is especially beneficial for people who spend long hours in front of a screen or need to repeatedly pick up heavyweights.
- Lower trapezius stretch exercises are an excellent way to improve your posture. Tight and stressed muscles cause poor posture in the form of hunching or slouching that exacerbates pain further. Stretching of trapezius muscles is a great way to reduce this stiffness and improve posture.
- Trapezius stretching improves the range of motion and flexibility in your neck and shoulders. This helps in letting your muscles function optimally and improve your performance in sports.
- If you stretch your muscles beyond their range of motion, you may end up straining or injuring them. By warming up and lengthening your muscles trapezius stretching exercises help prevent the risk of injuries.
- Trapezius pain stretches are not complicated and can be done by anyone. They don’t require investment in fancy equipment or studio space and can be easily included in your home workout regime.
Which are Some of the Most-Effective Stretching Exercises for Trapezius Pain?
Trapezius stretching exercises are targeted exercises aimed at improving blood and nutrient flow into your muscles along with enhancing their strength, flexibility, and mobility. Trap workouts can easily be customised depending on your experience, health, age, and concerns. These exercises for stretching for trapezius are usually divided into strengthening, flexibility, and low-impact aerobic exercises.
We have rounded up some of the best exercises for stretching of trapezius muscles for healthy trap muscles:
- Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana): One of the most effective trapezius stretching exercises, the cat-cow pose stretches your back muscles and releases tension.
- Get onto all fours in a tabletop position.
- Inhale and lift your head, chest, and hips while gently dropping your belly.
- Exhale and round up your spine towards the sky and stretch your neck ahead.
- Hold this position for a few seconds and return to the starting position.
- Upper trapezius stretch: The upper trapezius stretch is an excellent exercise to relieve compression in your neck and shoulders and thereby reduce pain and stiffness.
- To begin this trapezius stretching, sit tall in a sturdy chair.
- Hold the bottom of the seat with one hand and gently turn your ear to your shoulder. Do this until you feel a comfortable stretch on the opposite side of your neck.
- Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Doorway stretch: This is one of the best trapezius pain stretches that work on your middle trap muscles.
- Stand in a doorway and stretch your hands to hold the frames comfortably.
- Your forearms must be flat on the frame of the door.
- Take one step forward with your right leg and hold that position for 10-15 seconds when you feel a comfortable stretch.
- Repeat with the other leg.
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): This lower trapezius stretch exercise increases the flexibility in your spine and strengthens it. Not just this, this compound trap workout also makes your arms stronger improving your range of motion.
- To begin this trapezius stretching exercise, lie on your stomach with your hands at your sides.
- Lift your head gently while placing your hands next to your shoulders. your arms should be parallel.
- Now start lifting your chest while arching your back.
- Hold this pose for 10-20 seconds and come back to the starting position.
If you have been feeling tension or pain in your neck or shoulders, you are not alone. Stretching of trapezius muscles has tremendous benefits in reducing these uncomfortable symptoms. However, it is essential to do trapezius stretching safely. Remember to learn the proper technique of stretching, not overdoing it, and learning to listen to your body. Be regular with your stretching exercises for you to gain their benefits.
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