Trapezius Strain: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Stretches, Recovery

Trapezius Strain
(Last Updated On: May 18, 2022)

Muscle overuse and misusing will lead to major health issues such as Trapezius Strain, and stress varies between minor or severe cases depending on the cause and place of your injury.

Trapezius muscle or commonly used name, the Traps muscle is a major triangular muscle in the upper back of your body, covering halfway to your shoulders and extending in the middle of the back (with a T-shape), and is responsible for many basic actions, such as securing the correct alignment of the posture of the upper body, and the many activities in your life, similar to lifting objects.

Most body builders exercises focus on the growth of the traps area, because it provides the strength of the muscles of the body that they want to achieve, because it provides an essential role to increase the force of the pulling exercises.

Plus, once these muscles are developed, they provide great body shape and physics to the thicker mass in the back muscles of a wider measurement.

But to reach this level of strength, you are likely to encounter many obstacles of lifting more heavy weights or wrong movement during the workout journey, which increases the possibility of many injuries and causes muscle strain.


Traps Anatomy


Trapezius Strain

It’s a common problem that will minimize the mobility in your arms and shoulders, and straining usually occurs when muscles, tendons, or fibers are stretched beyond their normal limits, either by overload activity or tightness.

In this article I will brief about the symptoms of this strain, so you can know if you have an injury and you were not aware of it, and will discuss about the causes that will lead to muscle strain, so as to try to avoid them as much possible.

Also will cover the Treatment is a quick way that we can do ourselves at home that does not need extra medical attention, and then finally we will cover more about exercise and stretches which will prevent us for such injuries.


Symptoms of Trapezius Strain

The symptoms of a trapezius strain can vary range from a mild feeling of pain to a critical one that reaches to torn the tendon or muscle, and depends mainly on the causes of the injury and its level of severity.

You may feel burning and muscle cramp, or dots and lines of pain in the upper back and in the neck. Advanced cases may cause muscle inflammation and swelling.

It can cause tightness in the shoulder and neck which reduces their range of motion, and this will cause another problem when turning the head to the sides.

Moreover, you may feel numbness in the arms.


Causes of Trapezius Strain

Causes of traps strain are usually caused by either overuse muscle or severe injury.

Severe Injury

This occurs when a muscle is suddenly gets hit or impinged, such as a heavy fall impact or severe drop of any object on the body, and this will cause a direct bruise to the area as well as immediate toughness and pain.


Overuses injury increases based on two factors, either repetitively or performing activities over an extended period of time. These activities can either be low-impact activities such as improperly common sitting or prolonged use of a mobile phone with a low head.

Moreover, a tough-impact that is similar to lifting heavy weights while doing bodybuilding.

When a Trapezius is repeatedly exposure to under stress for an extended period of time, without taking a break or proper care attention, it will get affected and cause the muscles of the traps to strain.


Treatment of Trapezius Strain

Traps muscle strain treatment options may vary with the level of injury, and you also need to differentiate between cases that need medical attention, if you are not sure you can see your nearest physical consultant for examination and evaluation until you are confident that it is not a serious case.

But most cases can be recognized if you have experience tolerated pain of low to moderate level, and it does not limit the range of motion of the arms, head and shoulder, and you are still able to turn your neck to the sides, meaning that your condition can often be treated at home, without further of anxiety.

The different possible treatment options for the traps strain could be as follows:


Most common low-impact cases required are treated by taking a rest, because they get an overload or slight wrong movement during the activity, which requires getting enough rest to recover, and recharging the muscles with the energy needed to rehabilitate themselves through care with it, this type of injury can definitely be maintained at home, or wherever place you feel relaxed and refreshed.


Another treatment method that can be applied, by adding ice to the areas that feel spasm, burning or swollen, it is preferable to wrap the ice with a low-thickness towel, so that the skin is not exposed directly to a severe drop in temperature, which may negatively affect your body. This way the ice will absorb muscle tension.

Wrap Infected Area

In other cases, it is preferable to wrap the strain by covering the area between your shoulder and the middle of your back, to provide adequate compress on the trapezius muscle to reduce swelling, but it is not entirely practical, since the area in the middle back is difficult to cover.

However, there is another new alternative way to do this, through using Kinesiology tape which is a specialized elastic tape for rehabilitation and prevention of muscle injuries, placed on the skin, and used sometime by athletic and in the sports field to avoid and restore muscle strain.

Kinesiology Tape Athletic Sport Recovery Muscle Strain




Last treatment option If a severe strain injury results from a complete tear of a tendon or muscle, medical attention may be required, with surgery to restore the muscle and repair the tear or reattach the tendon.


Recovery Period from Strain Traps

Recovery time depends on the level of injury strain and the rehabilitation treatment applied to restore normal muscle function and return to normal motion, for low impact injury, while using rest and ice, recovery probably take about two weeks, but for more serious injuries may extend to a few months.

If engaging in medical treatment, your doctor will advise you to follow a plan with light recovery traps activities, and gradually add certain exercises or stretches over time to the program, in order to maximize flexibility and muscle strength, which will help your body return to normal condition.


Stretches Traps

Performing the stretching movements is of great benefit that will avoid injuries to the trapezius muscle and muscle strain.

You can start with one of the easy traps stretches, by placing your head straight, with your shoulders relaxed, then bending your head to the left side, like your trying to touch your left shoulder with your left ear, and then freezing in this position for 20 seconds, then return your head directly to the center, then switch head by turn to the other side to the right and repeat the same steps.

Another simple exercise that can strengthen the trapezius, is called the scapula setting.

Begin by lying on your stomach, with your face down on the floor (you can add an optional a towel or pillow in front of your forehead, for your comfort), keeping your whole body straight, with your arms alignment and parallel to your torso, now lift both your shoulders together, and contract the two traps in the middle of your back.

scapula setting stretch to recover trapezius strain

You can check out this link for Additional Trapezius Stretches if you are interested in securing muscle flexibility and in case a warm-up.


Exercises Traps

If you want to increase the strength of your traps, while your traps do not sustain injuries, you need to follow regular workouts to prevent future injuries.

The Workouts that can be suitable for men such as Waiters Walk, Kettlebell walking or reverse flying with dumbbells can have great benefits, for women other exercises that can be practiced such as the seated dumbbell press or superwomen exercise that will also strengthen the traps muscles and improve your posture, add stability the rotating shoulders with the neck, with general upper body balance.

I want to emphasis, to make sure you warm up your muscles for a while before starting your workout, to reduce any potential injury or muscle strain.



One of the most important factors to prevent trapezius strain injury is to engage stretching and exercises in your daily routine activities, either for 10-15 minute stretches in the morning, before your workout, be careful when lifting object heavy or weights and make sure it suitable and doesn’t hurt you.

Stretching helps you loosen tight muscles to ensure flexibility when needed.

Always follow up and monitor your Symptoms, cause any issue in the body, starting with a simple signal, the body raises this signal to tell you to be careful and start treat yourself, ignoring these symptoms will build up issues to a severe level over time, this is something you don’t want to happen !

Don’t ignore resting your body muscles, as overloaded efforts without breaks will only make things worse after a while, so stop such behavior and be more careful and attention to your health.

If you are interested, you can boost your shoulder stretches which associated with the traps, to increase flexibility and improve recovery in this area.


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