Pain or soreness of the trapezius muscle is a common complaint, as it is easy to cause muscle strain in this area. In this article we go over causes of trapezius muscle strain, as well as how to stretch your trapezius muscles to combat soreness and get you back to your best.
Where is the Trapezius Muscle?
The trapezius muscle is a triangular shaped muscle at the bottom of your neck. It spans the width of your shoulders, attaches into your mid back (thoracic spine), and into the back of your skull. The Trapezius is a key muscle that works to move your shoulders and your neck.
Trapezius Muscle Strain and Pain
The trapezius muscle can cause significant pain in the neck, shoulders, and at the back of the skull after becoming stiff or spasming. For some, it can also cause headaches as the tight trapezius muscles pull on the skull area.
There are a number of potential reasons for trapezius muscle strain or pain, including:
- When stressed, it’s fairly common to tense the trapezius muscle. This causes our shoulders to rise up and down, shortening the muscle. Over time this can lead to trapezius muscle strain and/or pain.
- Heavy lifting and repetitive activities can cause overuse injuries on the trapezius muscle, causing strain and pain.
- Poor posture is a common reason for pain in the trapezius muscle. Forward flexed postures such as leaning over a desk, places extra stress over the trapezius muscle.
How to Stretch Your Trapezius Muscles
Appropriate stretches can help to stop the trapezius muscle from getting too tight. To gain the maximum benefit, hold stretches for 20-30 seconds without bouncing. Stretches shouldn’t cause pain. If it causes pain, stop immediately and adjust your position. If the pain persists, rest your muscle instead.
Upper trapezius stretch (ear to shoulder stretch)
Standing straight with good posture, tilt your head towards your shoulder as far as you can without straining or lifting your opposite shoulder. You can deepen the stretch by using your hand (same side) to gently pull your head down.
On your hands and knees, come into a tabletop position with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips. Ensure to balance your weight evenly.
Inhale, look forwards, and engage your core.
Exhale as you tuck your chin into your chest, dropping your head, and drawing your core towards your spine. Here, you will round your spine towards the ceiling as indicated in the image below. Hold this position for a few breaths before returning to the starting position.
Self massage, or regular sport massages, can help reduce pain and tightness in the trapezius muscle. Managing stress and increased tension in the muscle via regular massages can help reduce pain and muscle spasms.
You can use a tennis ball in the upper trapezius area to self massage. Place a ball between your upper back and a wall or floor. Roll the ball in small circles into the trapezius muscle. This should not be painful but may be tender. The aim is to try and soften the muscle.
Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy in Sheffield
The trapezius muscle is an overused muscle which is prone to injury and soreness. It’s important to try to keep muscles flexible and soft to prevent pain. At Katie Bell Physiotherapy and Wellness, our expert Physiotherapists can help you relieve your aches and pains related to the trapezius muscles with tailored exercises, stretches, and sports massages.
Get in touch today to learn more about our Physiotherapy services in Sheffield.