Sunday, January 4, 2015

January 2015 Upper Trapezius

Upper Trapezius

Have you ever felt tightness in your upper shoulders or into your neck? How about a headache at the back of your head, or up the side of your head into your temple? If you answered “Yes”, it is likely that your Upper Trapezius muscle was involved. I will share with you how this muscle works, as well as the easiest and most effective ways to take care of this muscle.  Knowing how your body works can help you to keep your body working well.

Where is Upper Trapezius located?

The Trapezius muscles are appropriately named since each side looks like a trapezoid. The right and left sides together form a diamond shape from the back of the head, out to each of the scapulae, and down to the middle of the back.  The Trapezius muscle consists of 3 sections on each side, the upper, middle, and lower fibers.  This article focuses on the highest portion, known as the Upper Trapezius.

What does Upper Trapezius do for me?

We use our Upper Trapezius to raise our shoulders up to our ears, or “shrug” them.  In addition to supporting the weight of our arms at our side, the Upper Trapezius rotates the shoulder blade upward as we reach forward and overhead.  The Upper Trapezius connects to the base of our skull, and we use it to look up and extend our neck. The left side of the Upper Trapezius rotates our head to the right when it contracts, and vice versa.

Why does my Upper Trapezius get injured or sore?

Overdoing any of the above motions or lifting too heavy a weight may cause this muscle to become strained. Also, cradling a telephone between your ear and shoulder for long periods of time may cause this muscle to become shortened, then tight or painful.

What can I do to keep my Upper Trapezius working well?

As you sit or stand comfortably, try the following activities to feel your Upper Trapezius working on each side of your body. Remember to stay within a pain-free motion.  You can perform each of these a few times to get the circulation moving and feel your muscles working.

1. Raise your shoulders up toward your ears. Relax them down.
2. Look up to the right and bring the left ear toward your left shoulder. Reverse.
3. Keep your elbows straight and raise your arms straight in front of you.
4. Keep your elbows straight and raise your arms out at an angle in front of you.
5. Keep your elbows straight and raise your arms out to the side.

Did you feel your Upper Trapezius muscles working? Great!

How can I strengthen my Upper Trapezius muscles?

If you want a little more strenuous exercise for these muscles, try “Shoulder Shrugs” while holding a weight in each hand. Some other strengthening exercises commonly performed that involve the Upper Trapezius are the “Clean and Jerk”, where a weight is lifted from the floor to the shoulder, then raised straight up overhead. You can also perform “Upright Rows” where you raise a bar, kettlebell or weight in front of your chest as you bend your elbows out to the sides. “Dead lifts” also work your Upper Trapezius as they support the weight of your arms and any extra weight you are lifting in front of you.

As you can see, Upper Trapezius is a very important muscle and has some functions we rely on many times throughout every day.  It is important to make sure your Upper Trapezius is working at it’s best.