Stretch Trapezius Muscle | Symptoms, Causes Tightness & How to Prevent

Stretch Trapezius Muscle
(Last Updated On: September 9, 2022)

One of the muscle groups that may be under stress due to our life routine is the Trapezius muscles, which can stiffen and limit the motion of the shoulders, which requires stretching.

With our fickle lifestyles and busy work schedules, we spend very little time on physical fitness. This leads in the tightening of our muscles, which need to be stretched to facilitate movements. They are the muscles responsible for the voluntary and involuntary movements in our bodies. And when the muscles narrow, the biomechanics of the whole body is distorted.

If you have the same stiff traps problem, here in this post we are going to share useful tips to unlock your tights traps by stretching and releasing your trapezius muscles.

What are the Trapezius Muscles?

This muscle got its name because of its trapezoidal shape. It is a large muscle that extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine. It extends laterally as a wing, passing from the occipital bone to the scapula.

The arm and shoulder movements fall into the hands of the trapezius muscles. If you can think of the Overhead press, it’s the trapezius muscles that are involved in the movement.

Traps Anatomy

What are the functions of the Trapezius Muscles?

The trapezius muscles are responsible for the stability and movement of the scapula and arm. Its function occurs in three parts. The force exists in the upper part of the muscle comes down to support the weight of the arm, lift the shoulder, extend and holds up the neck.

The middle part retracts the scapula backward. The third segment is the lower part that ascends and rotates medially and compresses the scapula that lead a movement of the scapula in the shoulder blade.

Each muscle brings a movement in the case of contraction. When the trapezius muscles contract, the result can be in two ways:

  1. If the origins of the spine are stable and immobile, then it is the scapula that moves.
  2. When the scapula is stable, it is the movement of the spine that occurs.

Symptoms of Tight Trapezius Muscles

To know when to stretch the trapezius muscles, one must first learn that his/her trapezius muscles are tight and need to be stretched. To find out, look for the following symptoms:

  • Overburdened shoulders that can make you feel like you have a lot of weight on your shoulders and that feeling is constant.
  • A feeling of stiffness in your upper back, arms and neck.
  • Some people may get a headache with tightness in the neck.


What are the causes of Trapezius muscle Tension?

There can be a range of causes that can lead to a stiff trapezius muscle. Some of the known causes of these tight traps are:

  • Workout

    If you’ve recently started a workout or become a new registered gym visitor, you may experience pain in the upper back, arms, and neck area. This may be due to tight trapezius muscles.

  • Overhead Activities

    If you are highly immersed in overhead activities such as swimming, playing tennis or badminton and don’t stretch regularly enough, your Trapezius muscles may cramp.

  • Lifestyle

    Sitting in the same position for long hours is part of the work profile of most of the population and is increasingly becoming a cause of tight traps muscles. Sitting in front of the computer all day to work or play or something similar like looking down for hours using a smartphone has become a part of many people’s lives, and is bad for health and body posture.

    A lack of regular physical activities can lead to the tight trapezius muscles. Additionally, if you haven’t been doing a lot of physical activity and randomly lifting heavy objects, sudden pain can make you realize the tightness of your shoulder area.

  • Stress

    It is one of the most common diseases these days and a major cause of any disorder. The Stress triggers a lot of chemical reactions in our bodies that are not beneficial to us, and increases damage if it accumulated or occurs in a large dose of it. These can affect the contraction and relaxation of any muscles and even the trapezius muscles can fall prey to tension.

  • Intense Injury

    Any severe cut can also cause tight traps to occur.

Any disturbance in body mechanics can be annoying and need a care attention. It can significantly disturb general well-being and performance in the exercise sessions or even routine activities.

You can read more about the additional causes of trapezius strain, their symptoms, and the required stretches.


How to Prevent Your Traps From Tightening?

If you do not have tight traps. This is good. But, it’s imperative that you keep checking so that you don’t get tightened, and even if you do, you can work your way up easily long before the problem gets worse. Here’s how you can keep the inspection to yourself and prevent tight traps.

  • Keeping a check on yourself: Periodically check your shoulder position. Just let your shoulders fall. It should be in line with the collarbone, not raised or bent forward. However, if it’s not, put it in its proper position unless you want it to get a little tighter. Regularly checking your posture can be a preventative measure to monitor your muscles.

  • Shrug your shoulders: While sitting or standing, shrug your shoulders at any time of the day, but regularly. Raise your shoulders close to your ears. Hold them in this position for a few seconds, say from a count 1 to 30. Next, let them fall into a relaxing position. Do this 5-10 times.

  • Roll your shoulders: You can invest 5 minutes a day in rolling your shoulders. Roll them forward and backward, respectively.

How to Stretch Trapezius Muscle?

Once the problem of tight muscles is identified, the diagnosis is made. But what you want is treatment. We are here to help you with that, and guide you to deal with your trapezius muscles and return to their normal, even better state. Tight traps need to be stretched and how is it done! Here is your guide to getting started.

1) A simple stretch with heads movement

Sit or stand upright. Your back and head should be straight. Now, the only part that has to move is the head. Gently turn it to your right side so that it is 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 any position. This stretch will release tension in your tight trapezius muscles.

2) Tilting Face Stretch

Again for this stretch as well, you need to sit or stand but in an upright position. Tilt your head towards the right side but do not touch the shoulder and use your right hand to apply pressure from the top, placing your hand above your right ear and applying pressure gently. On the other hand, the left hand should be used in this case to keep the back straight by touching the scapula.

Once you are in this position, stay here for the count of 30. Now release the hands and neck to get into a relaxed state. Repeat the same tilting steps with the left side. Then right. You can do at least 3 times on each side.

3) Embrace Yourself

For this stretch, you will need to stand upright and hug yourself with a bear hug. Touch your right shoulder with your left hand and your left shoulder with your right hand as if you were holding a teddy bear in your hands. Now, in this position, apply pressure with one of your hand on either shoulder and tilt your head to the opposite side.

Say, if you are applying pressure on your left shoulder with your right hand, bend your head towards the right side. Hold this position for a count of 30. Now, repeat a similar steps on the other side. Do this stretch 3-4 times on each side.

4) Gripping Shoulders

This stretch involves standing straight and holding both shoulder blades together to grab some neat stuff. Now apply pressure with your shoulders to push your ribs down. Stay in this position until the count of 30. Now release again and repeat from the beginning. Repeat this stretch several times.

5) Forward Head Stretch

This is a simple stretch that you can do while sitting or standing but in an upright position. This includes a nodding position where you bend your head forward direction with your chin pressed against your neck. Hold this position for a count of 30, then gently release and return to the original position. Repeat 10-15 times.

6) Diagonal Stretch

Again for this stretch as well, maintain  a vertical body position. Bend your head toward either shoulder so that your chin is close to the shoulder. Hold this position for a count of 30 and then return to the original position. Now switch the same exercise on the other side. Repeat about 6 times for each side.

7) Self-Massage

You can also heal your trapezius muscles by massaging them. Heat treats muscle tension. Thus you can use any heating pad over the muscles to stay for 15-20 minutes. You can also submerge your shoulders in warm water for a few minutes. Aside from the heat, even your hands can heal.

Massage the shoulders with the opposite hands. Apply some pressure and release and keep repeating the massage sequence. This will relieve pain in the shoulders and relax the trapezius muscles.

You can also use the force in your fingertips to move points that can release tension in your muscles. This involves applying pressure to the points that exacerbate the pain. You can also use a compression tool to reach these trigger points.

The most common points are those where the different muscles meeting occurs, such as where the shoulder blades meet or where the neck meets the shoulders. These are located in the middle of the spine on both sides. Another method of self-massage is using a tennis ball for rolling.

You can roll the ball on your back while your back against the wall. So, the ball is between your back and the wall. As you roll, you will become aware of the painful area. Once you have identified that area, stay there and tap the ball to squeeze area. Hold this position until the count of 60 and release. You will realize that the tension in the muscles has dissipated.

8) Changes in Lifestyle

Modifying a sedentary lifestyle and enhancing physical fitness in your life is the most effective treatment approach. In addition, it provides additional protection from further damage. Keeping your posture upright and doing some shoulder shrugs that you can easily do either sitting or standing will keep your trapezius muscles in perfect shape.

If you are in a habit that used to answering calls by holding your phone between your ear and your shoulder, please change this. You can use a Bluetooth device to do the work for you. Because this habit can tighten the trapezius muscles. Even while sleeping, try to keep your head straight so that it does not tilt to any side.

If you have a seated job that involves working on computers for a long time, we cannot change your profile, but we can help you with how to manage, in such a case, adjust your sitting posture to the optimum height, and maintain the correct posture alignment of the spine.

Sitting straight with your elbows at the correct angle will prevent your work style from causing you suffering. In addition, you can use the posture brace to support your spine and help you with correct back alignment by wearing it under the fabric during long hours of work.

Final Words

We’ve tried to help you loosen your tight traps, but as the rules say, “Prevention is always better than cure,” plunging into the right posture is the best advice. Besides, lifestyle modification can add a twist and keep you fit.