Is your upper back feeling sore? That’s probably your trapezius muscles talking. Often reduced to the name “traps," these muscles get cramped when you hunch over at a computer for a long time. Find out how you can stretch and strengthen these muscles with exercise!
What Are the Trapezius Muscles?
Your trapezius muscles are just as big as they sound. They span all across your upper back and frame your spine. They taper off just about where your bra closes – right where your lower back begins. So it’s no stretch of the imagination to see where it would be easy to get these muscles all in knots.
You can try heating packs to unlock the knots, but that’s only a band-aid fix. You really need to have those muscles stretched out so you can use them without feeling pain or soreness.
Trapezius Muscle Stretches
Stretching your trapezius muscles provides almost instant relief for pain and cramps. It will feel a little tender at first as you unlock your muscles, but you’ll be glad you took the time to do it.
Neck Circles: Begin standing with your arms hanging loose by your sides. Place one hand on each side of your head and tilt your head forward. Roll your neck 360 degrees in either direction. Switch directions and do it again.
Shoulder Blade Squeeze: This one’s great for at-the-computer relief if you can’t take a break at the office. Sit or stand and let your arms hang by your sides. Bring your shoulder blades together in the back as far as you can. Hold this position, breathing as you do. Release them and repeat until you feel relief.
Trapezius Muscle Exercises
Giving your trapezius muscle a little challenge does a world of good at the gym and at home. Here’s a few ideas to get you started.
Steering Wheel: Get yourself a plate weight or just a heavy plate of your own. Grab it with both hands in front of you, as if you were holding a steering wheel. Twist it back and forth as if you were making sharp turns in the car. If the weight is heavy, you’ll build strength. But if it’s a regular plate, you’ll just get a really good stretch.
Yoga Fish Pose: Lie down on your back with your legs straight out and your hands beneath your rump. Draw your chest toward the ceiling, keeping your shoulders back and propped ever so slightly onto your elbows. Tilt your neck back until the crown of your head touches the floor. Hold this pose for a few seconds and release.
Yoga Dolphin Pose: Get on your elbows and knees on the floor on top of a mat or soft carpet. Stretch your legs upward and draw your glutes up toward the ceiling, keeping on your tip toes. Your head should be facing the floor and settled in between your arms, which are propping up the top of your body on your elbows. You should be making an upside-down “V" shape.
Performing these stretches and exercises for your trapezius muscle a few times a week will help you relieve tension as well as prevent future lock-ups and knots.