How to Release Tight Traps
If you ever do upper body workouts at the gym like chest presses or shoulder shrugs, you are making use of your trapezius muscles. However, when overused, your traps can become tight reducing mobility in your neck and shoulders.
The upper trapezius area is a band of muscles that are attached at the base of the skull that run down to the middle portion of the spine. They allow you to do active motions like side bending, turning your head, raising objects over your head, and controlling the rotation of your arm.
Repetitive motions or lifting heavy objects can also cause strain and discomfort to the trapezius muscle groupings. Stress and tension can also be a culprit to this neck pain. It is ideal to perform some type of stretching exercise and deep breathing to help alleviate this tension. Here are a few ways to release your tight traps.
A simple stretch that you can do after swimming, playing tennis, or lifting weights is a static stretch for your neck. Stand or sit tall with a lengthened spine. Take your right hand and reach over your head to your left ear. Slowly and gently draw your head toward your right shoulder. This will create a light stretch on the left side targeting your trapezius muscles. To provide more sensation, you can extend your left arm out toward the floor at a 45 degree angle. Push through the heel of your hand. This will increase the stretching. Hold for at least 20 deep breaths then perform the action on the other side.
Release the Knots in Your Traps
Sometimes your traps need more than just a stretch. Often, they are tight and bound up due to your physical activities. You can use a Trigger Ball to release this tight area of the body. This will be a very good therapeutic treatment for releasing tight muscles.
With some light pressure, roll a trigger ball along the right portion of your neck down to your trapezius muscle. This will begin the process of targeting the knots that build up in this area. The slow rolling method will unbind connective tissue so that it reduces and eventually eliminates pain and discomfort. Do at least 20 rolls on each side of the neck to effectively treat the area.
You can create more pressure by using a wall. Place the trigger ball between your traps and the corner of a wall (like an open doorway.) You can apply static pressure or a slow gentle roll applying the necessary force to the knotted space in your traps and neck. Performing these exercises after every upper body workout will also encourage muscle recovery, development, and maintain your mobility and strength.
Preventing Tight Traps
To help prevent having tight traps, it is a good idea to warm up this region before your workouts. Here are a few simple exercises to practice.
While standing tall with your arms down by your side, roll your shoulders in a circular motion. Rotate them clockwise then counter clockwise. This will loosen up the shoulder joints.
Without using any weights, raise your shoulders toward your ears. Hold for a few seconds then release. Do this 5-10 times.
In addition to the static stretch exercise described above, you can add another simple neck stretch. Lower your chin toward your chest and hold for a few seconds before returning to neutral. Turning your head slowly to the left then to the right will also offer a gentle muscle release in the traps as a way to warm up these muscles. Do each of these exercises 5 times.