Exercises to Relax the Trapezius Muscle

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Exercises to Relax the Trapezius Muscle
The trapezius muscle often gets a workout and can become stiff and sore from stress. (baby on father's shoulders image by Daria Miroshnikova from Fotolia.com)

The trapezius is a large muscle shaped like an inverted triangle that encompasses your skull base, top of the shoulders and stops at the lowest thoracic vertebra in the mid-back area. This muscle is a common area for retaining stress and it often becomes stiff and sore. Assorted stretching and trigger-point exercises help relieve tension in this area of the body.

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Tennis Ball

Place a tennis ball or any hard rubber ball under your trapezius muscle where there is soreness and tension. Lie down on the ball so that you are looking at your ceiling. Control the location and pressure of the tennis ball by slowly moving your body in whatever direction feels most comfortable or tension-relieving. Another method of massaging your trapezius muscle is to use the tennis ball against a door frame. While it can look awkward it is actually an effective method of massaging your shoulders. This is a good massage technique for those with aching shoulder muscles from jobs that require working at a computer for long periods of time.

Lateral Neck Flexion Stretch

Start this stretch, which helps relieve tension in the neck and shoulder area, by looking straight forward. Do not let the chin drop down. Move your ear to your shoulder but do not move the shoulder up. Hold the pose for between 15 and 30 seconds. Repeat on each side. A variation of this exercise is when stretching the right side you can "further the stretch" by using your left hand to apply gentle pressure to the right side of your head. This exercise stretches the upper part of the trapezius muscle. Like the tennis ball massage, it is effective in relieving tension in the upper back and neck, which is helpful for those who sit at desks all day for their job.

Reverse Fly

This strengthening exercise requires the use of an exercise band. Start by attaching the bands to a heavy stationary object in front of you. Hold one end of the band in each hand with your arms held out in front of you just below the height of your chest. Keep your elbows straight as you pull your hands apart and out to your sides and repeat for several counts. Return to the starting position and repeat exercise as desired. This exercise works the trapezius muscle as well as the rhomboids and posterior fibres of the deltoid muscle.

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