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Shoulder Series Part 4 – Muscle Release: Upper Trapezius

In ‘part 1’ of this shoulder series we looked at the trapezius muscle. More specifically we showed you how to activate the lower trapezius, which is often weak in cases of shoulder dysfunction. Now we switch our focus to the UPPER TRAPEZIUS which has the opposite problem; in people with shoulder issues it is almost always TIGHT and OVERACTIVE.

The upper trapezius attaches from the tip of your shoulder, runs along your shoulder blade and up into the neck. When you have poor scapular mechanics, you are unable to upwardly rotate the scapula well, which is crucial for most shoulder movements. This is where the upper traps comes in, it tries to facilitate upward rotation. The problem is that the upper traps is a poor upward rotator, it ends up elevating the shoulder girdle instead. This leads to dysfunction, NECK & SHOULDER PAIN and long-term upper traps tightness.

The SOLUTION is two-fold: get the lower traps stronger (see ‘part 1’ of our shoulder series), and RELEASE THE UPPER TRAPS tightness.

Here is how: Grab a small ball (tennis, lacrosse, spikey, massage etc.) > lie down on your back > place the ball under your upper traps (find the tight spots) > rest on a tight spot for 30seconds-2minutes⠀ Progressions: moving arm up/down > arm movement plus head turns > circular arm movement

Spend 3-5 minutes working through the tightness each day. Give this a go and see how much better your shoulder and neck feels!!

⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Stay tuned for ‘Part 5’ of the shoulder series coming soon!

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