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- Ella Jolly, Social Worker
New York City

Muscle Monday: Trapezius

It’s time for another edition of ‪‎Muscle Monday‬!

Today’s special guest is the long, multi-talented Trapezius muscle.


The trapezius is a large, flat muscle found on the back that runs from the base of the skull, out towards the tip of your shoulder, and down to about the mid-back, forming a diamond of sorts. It’s the most superficial back muscle, making it very easy to palpate.

It has three sets of muscle fibers that run in different directions: Upper, middle, and lower. In my practice, I commonly find the upper traps to be quite active and compensating for all kinds of muscles, but the mid and lower traps tend to be a bit under-active.

The main functions of the traps are to move your scapula (“wing bone”) up, down, and towards the spine, and assist with arm movement, such as throwing.

I’m guessing that most of you reading this are, or have, experienced tension and pain in your upper traps! They tend to get caught up in the “shoulder-to-ear syndrome” that many of us suffer from due to long hours of desk work, carrying heavy bags around town, etc. Manual release work (such as ‪#massage‬, acupuncture, or other forms of hands-on bodywork) can be extremely useful, especially when coupled with exercises that help evenly strengthen the entire trap muscle and get other muscles on board to help take the weight off the traps, especially the upper traps.

Your ‪‎Gentle Nudge‬ is to challenge yourself to carry AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE through you day (a tougher challenge for us city dwellers who rely on walking on public transit. Believe me, I know.) and investing in an ergonomic bag. And as always, take breaks from your desk work every 20-60min to stretch, change your focus, and get some water and fresh air smile emoticon

I hope this has been helpful! I’d be happy to see your insights and questions in the comments. Please ‘share’ this post so others with trapezius muscles can benefit!

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