With sedentary lifestyles and busy work schedules, we spend a tiny amount of time for physical fitness. This leads to the tightening of our muscles which need stretching to enable free movements. It is the muscles which are responsible for both voluntary and involuntary movements in our body. And when the muscles get tight, the biomechanics of the whole body gets distorted.
One such set of muscles is the Trapezius muscles that can get stiff and restrict the motion of the shoulders. If you have the same problem, here in this post we are going to share a useful tips to unlock your traps tight by stretch Trapezius muscle.
What are the Trapezius Muscles?
This muscle derives its name because of its shape which is a trapezoid. It is a large muscle that runs longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine. Even laterally, it moves from the occipital bone to the scapula.
Movements of arm and scapula are hence in the hands of the trapezius muscles. If you can think of the Overhead press, it is the Trapezius muscles that are involved in the motion.
What are the functions of the Trapezius Muscles?
The Trapezius muscles are responsible for the stabilization and the movement of the scapula and the arm. Its functionality occurs in three parts. The upper part of the muscle descends to support the weight of the arm and lift the shoulder.
The middle portion retracts the scapula and holds up the neck. The third part Is the lower part that ascends and medially rotates and depresses the scapula to bring about the scapular movement or the movement in the shoulder blade.
Every muscle brings a motion in the state of contraction. When Trapezius muscles contract, the result can be in two-ways:
- If the spinal origins are stable, it is the scapula that moves.
- When scapulae are stable, it is the movement of the spine that occurs.
Symptoms of Tight Trapezius Muscles
To know when to stretch the Trapezius muscles, one has first to learn that his/her Trapezius muscles are tight and need stretching. To know this, look out for the following symptoms:
- Burdened shoulders that may make you feel that you have a lot of weight on your shoulders and this feeling is constant.
- Feeling of stiffness in your upper back, arms and neck.
- The tight muscles of the neck may develop a headache in some people.
What Causes of Trapezius Muscles to get Tight?
There can be an array of causes that can bring about hardness in your Trapezius muscles. Some of the known causes of these tight traps are:
If you have started recently a workouts or have become a new register visitor to a gym, you can experience a pain in your upper back, arms and neck region. This can be due to tight Trapezius muscles.
If you are highly indulged in overhead activities like that of swimming, playing tennis or badminton and not doing enough stretching regularly, your Trapezius muscles can get tight.
Sitting in the same position for long hours is a part of the working profile of most population and is increasingly becoming a reason for muscles tightening. Sitting in front of the computer all the day for work or play or a similar-looking down into a smartphone is something that has become part of many lives.
Not adopting regular physical activities can lead to tight trapezius muscles. In addition, if you are not much into physical activity and have randomly lifted heavy objects, sudden pain can make you realize the tightness in your shoulder region.
It’s one of the most common these days, and a leading cause for any disorder. Stress triggers a lot of chemical reactions in our body which are not beneficial for us. These can affect the contraction and relaxation of any muscles and even Trapezius muscles can fall prey to stress.
Any severe cut also can cause tight traps.
Any disturbance in the mechanics of the body can be disturbing and need attention. They can significantly disturb the overall well being and performance in workout sessions or even routine activities.
How to Prevent Your Traps From Tightening?
If you don’t have the tight traps. It’s good. But, it’s essential to keep checkup that you don’t get tightened and even if you do, you can make your way easily long before the problem can get more worse. Here is how you can keep inspection yourself and prevent a tight traps.
- Keeping a check on yourself: Periodically check for your shoulder position. Just let your shoulders fall. They should be in the same line with the collar bone, neither high nor bent forward. However, if they are not, then get them right unless you want them to get more tight. Keeping a regular checkup on your posture can be a preventive measure to keep a check on your muscles.
- Shrug your shoulders: While sitting or standing, shrug your shoulders at any time of the day, but regularly. Head up your shoulders near your ears. Hold them in the position for a few seconds, say from counting 1 up to 30. And then, let them fall to a relaxed position. Do this 5-10 times.
- Roll your shoulders: You can invest daily 5 minutes in rolling your shoulders. Roll them both forwards as well as backwards consecutively.
How to Stretch Trapezius Muscle?
Once you have recognized the problem for tight muscle, the diagnosis is made. But what you want is a treatment. And we are here to help you with this, and guide you to deal with your tight Trapezius muscles and get back to normal, even better condition. Tight traps need stretching and how is that done! Here is your guide to start with:
1) A simple stretch with heads movement: Sit or stand in an upright position. Your back and head should be straight. Now, the only part that should be moved is the head. Gently turn it to your right side so that it comes parallel to your shoulder. Do not jerk. Slowly, return to the center position.
Now, do the same movement towards the left side. Then, again right and left. Keep repeating for a few minutes without holding on any position. This stretch will release the tension in your tight Trapezius muscles.
2) Tilting Face Stretch: Again for this stretch also, you need to either to sit or stand but upright. Tilt your head towards the right side but don’t touch the shoulder and use your right hand to apply pressure from above, by place the hand above your right ear and then gently apply pressure. The other hand, left, in this case, has to be used to keep the back upright by touching the shoulder blade.
Once you are in this position, stay here till the count of 30. Now release the hands and the neck to gain a relaxed state. Repeat the similar tilt steps with the left side. And then right. You can do a minimum of 3 times per each side.
3) Embrace Yourself: For this stretch, you will need to stand upright and embrace yourself with a bear hug. Touch your right shoulder with your left hand and your left shoulder with a right hand as if you are holding a teddy bear in your hands. Now, in this position apply pressure with your hand on any of the shoulders and lean your head on the opposite side.
Say, if you are applying pressure on the left shoulder with your right hand, bend your head towards the right side. Hold on to this position till the count of 30. Now, repeat a similar procedure on the other side. Do this stretch 3-4 times for each side.
4) Gripping Shoulders: This stretch involves standing straight and holding both the shoulder blades together as to make a grip for some sleek object. Now apply pressure with your shoulders pushing down the ribs. Stay in this position till the count of 30. Now release back and repeat it from the beginning. Repeat this stretch for a few times.
5) Forward Stretch: This is a simple stretch that you can do while sitting or standing but in an upright position. This involves the nodding position where you bend your head in the forward direction with your chin pressing towards your neck. Hold this position until the count of 30 and then gently release and return to the original position. Repeat it 10-15 times.
6) Diagonal Stretch: Again for this stretch too, maintain the upright position. Bend your head towards any of the shoulders in a manner that your chin approaches the shoulder. Hold this position till the count of 30 and then resume to the original position. Now switch the same exercise in the opposite side. Repeat for about 6 times each side.
7) Self-Massage: You can also heal your Trapezius muscles by massaging them. Heat heals the muscular tension. And so you can use any heating pad over the muscle to be kept for 15-20 minutes. Else wise you can immerse your shoulders in warm water for a few minutes. Apart from the heat, even your hands can heal.
Massage both the shoulders with the opposite hands. Apply for some pressure and release and keep repeating the massaging sequence. This will alleviate the pain in shoulders and relax the Trapezius muscles.
You can also use the power in your fingertips to trigger the points that can release the tension in the muscles. This involves pressing down the points which accentuate the pain. You can also use a pressure tool to reach these trigger points. Most common points are the ones where the meeting occurs, like where the shoulder blades meets or the ones where the neck meets the shoulders. These are located in the middle of the spine of both sides. Another self-massaging technique puts a tennis ball to use.
You can roll the ball on your back with the wall. So, the ball is in between your back and the wall. While you roll over, you will realize the painful area. Once you have spotted that area, stay there and press into the ball to apply pressure. Hold this position till the count of 60 and then release. You will realize that the tension in the muscles has been released.
8) Changes in Lifestyle: Modifying the sedentary lifestyle and promoting the physical fitness in your life is by far the most efficient technique of healing. Plus, it provides additional prevention from further damage. Keeping your posture upright and doing some shoulder shrugs which you can do easily either sitting or standing will keep your Trapezius muscles in perfect state.
If you are in a habit of attending to the calls by holding your phone between your ear and the shoulder, please change it. You can use a Bluetooth device to do the work for you. Because this habit can tighten your Trapezius muscles. Even during the sleep, try to keep your head straight so that it doesn’t fall on any side.
If you have a sitting job that includes working on computers for long time, we cannot change your profile, but we can help you how to manage, for such a case, adjust your sitting posture to the optimal height.
Sitting straight with elbows at the right angle will prevent your work style from causing you the suffering. In addition, you can use posture brace to support and help you with correct back alignment by wearing it under your cloth during long working hours.
We have tried to help you loosen your tight traps, but as the rules say, “Prevention is always better than cure”, indulging in a right posture is the best tip. Besides, lifestyle modification can add a twist and keep you fit.