by Daniel Lucas
Do you feel like your trapezius muscles will just not loosen up for you, no matter how many massages you get and stretches you try? The trapezius is a large, diamond-shaped muscle, located in your upper back, neck and shoulders. Its job is to both stabilize your shoulder girdle, neck and upper back and provide power for pulling and lifting motions. It’s probably needless to say, but this muscle does a lot of work for us and tends to accept a lot of stress.
Here are some tips from Nimble Fitness to help keep those traps feeling good:
1. Breath! Your breath is your ticket to de-stressing and releasing tight muscles, especially the trapezius. Here’s a simple breathing exercise: Sit up tall with two rolled towels tucked between your elbows and your ribs. Begin taking belly breaths that fill your entire stomach, ribs, and chest with oxygen. With every exhale, consciously relax your arms and traps, a little bit more each time. Imagery is great at helping the body to let go of stress, so visualize a warm waterfall running down the back of your neck and shoulders. Ahh, that feels nice!
2. Become more aware of your posture. Your posture is directly related to how you sit, walk, eat, think and move. Start to become conscious of faulty repetitive patterns in your workday, like slouching at the desk, hanging on the front of your hips while standing, or pinching your shoulders together while walking. Posture is a biggie, and we can’t cover everything that goes into creating better posture in this article, so I will give you one important thing to think about: head position. If you feel your head falling forward, or if you feel you have to “work” to keep your head up, you are definitely putting stress on your traps. Be tall through your torso and spine, and let your head float on top of your shoulders.
3. Leave your big bags at home! Loading your body down with bags tells the body to add more support to the muscles under stress. The body, being as intelligent as it is, reacts to the stress by adding collagen to muscles, making them firmer and more strap-like. The problem when muscles get stuck in these positions is that we get mis-aligned and often feel pain and stress as a result. Remember, everything is connected in our bodies, so our organs can be affected by this stress as well. I say leave the bag at home! Yes, this means the backpack too. Make duplicates of whatever you’re carrying, or transport your work digitally. It will free your traps and your soul as well.
4. Lengthen your abdominal muscles and pecs. Often where we feel pain is not the actual source of the pain. Lengthening your quadriceps, abdominal and pectoral muscles will give space to the front of your body. This will loosen the “tug” from these muscles on the muscles of the back, especially the trapezius.
5. Strengthen your core. And honestly, the rest of your body! Building strength in your torso will assist with having better posture and functional stability, whether you’re moving, standing or sitting. Torso support will keep your head on top of your body, which will take stress off of your trapezius. Train your postural muscles and move with poise!