Trapezius muscle pain is an injury or strain in the neck muscles, which may be an indicator of an increase in stress levels. Trapezius muscle pain often feels like an aching or burning sensation between the shoulder blades, but it may also extend from the base of the skull. The trapezius helps support movement in the upper body, such as the shoulder blades, the arms, as well as the head and neck. Trapezius muscle pain often involves stiffness and pain in the muscle itself, which is located between the neck and shoulders. For some, it may feel tight or as though there are knots in your back, and it may be tender to the touch.
Causes of Trapezius Muscle Pain
Although trapezius muscle pain can occur because of stress and tension, exercise, repetitive motion and even daily living can affect the health of the trapezius and cause it to become painful or lock up.
Trapezius muscle pain is common for those who work at a desk or at a computer, especially for those who have poor posture and work in an area that is not ergonomically designed. Even having a computer screen misaligned can affect the angle of your body and cause stiff muscles. If you have trapezius muscle pain, you should review your work area and posture to see if it is a contributing factor to your pain. Repetitive motion may be a factor because it does not allow the muscle or tissue to rest and can cause irritation in the area.
If the trapezius is not in the correct position, the muscle can lengthen or shorten and affect the blood and oxygen flow to the muscles. Correcting your posture and avoiding repetitive motion can help you maintain a proper length of the trapezius and reduce strain on the area.
The best approach to trapezius muscle pain is to exercise and focus on strengthening the muscles of the neck to improve your posture. Trapezius muscle pain can be reduced through rowing machines and upper body exercises, however, it is often beneficial to reduce the pain before beginning exercises to increase muscle strength in the area.
There are also neck stretches that can be implemented into a busy daily routine to reduce the pain and recurrence of trapezius muscle pains. Sit upright in a chair and make sure that your posture is correct. These stretches can be done in repetitions of 15-20 every hour to decrease trapezius muscle pain. Begin by rolling the shoulders back so that the shoulder blades feel like they are being pinched together. Then raise your shoulders up towards the ceiling and lower them down gently. You can then bend your neck from side to side by tilting your head towards your shoulder and counting to 3, then repeating in each direction. You can also try looking over your shoulder on each side. If your trapezius muscle becomes tight after these stretches, you can also try a neck bend or rotation where you gently pull your head towards your shoulder. If your trapezius muscle continues to hurt, you may want to consider other treatment options.
Pain in the shoulder and neck can be prevented or reduced with massage. Although it is beneficial to seek out a massage therapist, it may not always be an option and can become a financial burden. It is possible to reduce trapezius muscle pain through self-massage. Reach back with one hand and find your trapezius muscle. Beginning at the base of the neck, try to knead the trapezius muscles.
You can also apply some pressure to the area along your shoulders and between the shoulder blades. If there is an area that is more tender, apply pressure for ten seconds and then release so that the muscle can relax. This can help to alleviate the tension built up in the trapezius muscle, thereby reducing pain.