Recurring Trapezius/Upper Back/Neck Tightness

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 01, 2014 10:58 PM GMT
    So - After a few rounds over the past couple years of dealing with this recurring issue, I'm looking for better ways of dealing with or PREVENTING this issue.

    I know it's rather common amongst gym-goers, so there must be some good rules to follow. I am also thinking, there MUST be some Yoga-based stretches that can help prevent and alleviate this issue.

    I'm not a "gym monster" and I don't tend to lift beyond what feels sensible/reasonable - generally keep it to weights I can handle between 10 and 12 reps per exercise comfortably before incresing a bit. I also generally avoid exercises that target the traps too much. But clearly tight-traps are a problem spot for me.

    I'm all ears! Will try to post more info when I have time. Super thanxo. icon_biggrin.gif
  • camfer

    Posts: 892

    Mar 02, 2014 12:51 AM GMT
    The first thing that came to mind is that messenger bag over your shoulder. That is not helping at all. If you have to carry a bag around, don't use the shoulder strap. Carry it in your hand. This simple shift made a huge difference for me.

    Check your posture to make sure you're not craning your neck forward when sitting, standing, or walking. If you spend a lot of time in front of a TV or computer screen, make sure you're not looking down at it. Ideally the top of the screen is at eye height.

    A handheld electric massager that you can use on your traps can help.

    Some serious steam room time can help. Go in and out of the steam room over the course of several hours. Put your shoulders up against a hot tile wall. Heat is great to loosen muscles.

    For yoga, explore downward facing dog, upward facing dog, wheel, handstand. Inversions can help, so if something like wheel pose is too advanced for where you are now in your yoga practice, see how else you can get your head hanging down. There are inversion boots with clips that allow you to hang upside down. Even a playground would give you a bar where you can hook your knees over the bar and let go and hang there.

    Finally, when you are lifting, pay careful attention that you are not tensing your face/neck/shoulders. A lot of people have referred tension when they lift. Focus on contracting only the target muscles while consciously relaxing other areas of the body, tending toward slower reps. If you do crunches or sit ups, check to see what you're doing with your traps in these exercises.

  • Destinharbor

    Posts: 4435

    Mar 02, 2014 2:15 AM GMT
    Could be a lot of things but try this. Do warm up aerobics for a while before starting. Then swing your arms in circles foreward and back. Then do side window washers foreward and back. Then straight arm across clavicle each way, then over your head. Lastly, arms tight to your sides with fingers stretching for the floor, roll your head down and across, back and forth slowly. Then shake it all out. Do this every time before you work out.

    I used to have trap/neck issues all the time. Doing this every time (even on leg days) cured it.
  • Timbales

    Posts: 13993

    Mar 02, 2014 2:17 AM GMT
    Are you on the computer all day? Your posture, monitor height and work station may need adjusting.
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    Mar 02, 2014 7:23 AM GMT
    http://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PBOnePieceView?storeId=10151&pagename=91

    I believe trying some self myofascial release would greatly help with the pain your experiencing. It's an extremely simple yet effective way to self treat and paramount to perform before exercising. The other aspect may be you have slightly over active pectorals and thus they are pulling on your traps since theythey are the agonist to them.


  • Kalifornicati...

    Posts: 242

    Mar 02, 2014 7:23 AM GMT
    I have some of the same issues. Steam room has helped a lot, about 15 minutes. As one guy suggested lean your back agains the hot tile walls. Heat will loosen the back.

    Plow position in yoga helps too, at least for me.

    Stretching your legs by standing and lowering slowly to the floor and lift back up from the lower abs slowly. Part of upper neck/back tension can be associated to legs not being stretched enough.

    Counter act your some of your forward movements with back exercises. Bridge pose is good too.

    These all helped tons for me.

    Massage every six weeks is great as well if it's in your budget.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 02, 2014 2:14 PM GMT
    Vaalie505 saidhttp://www.performbetter.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/PBOnePieceView?storeId=10151&pagename=91

    I believe trying some self myofacial release would greatly help with the pain your experiencing. It's an extremely simple yet effective way to self treat and paramount to perform before exercising.



    I was also going to suggest a foam roller. They have done wonders for me and I can get a MUCH better tension release with them than I can through regular stretching. It has been a game changer for me.
  • quirkyquirk

    Posts: 71

    Mar 02, 2014 2:18 PM GMT
    +1 on the myofascial release. Use a lacrosse ball and google Starret- mobility- trapezius. Kelly has some great stuff on his site and has saved me multiple times. Cheers!
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    Mar 03, 2014 4:32 AM GMT
    manboynyc saidSo - After a few rounds over the past couple years of dealing with this recurring issue, I'm looking for better ways of dealing with or PREVENTING this issue.

    I know it's rather common amongst gym-goers, so there must be some good rules to follow. I am also thinking, there MUST be some Yoga-based stretches that can help prevent and alleviate this issue.

    I'm not a "gym monster" and I don't tend to lift beyond what feels sensible/reasonable - generally keep it to weights I can handle between 10 and 12 reps per exercise comfortably before incresing a bit. I also generally avoid exercises that target the traps too much. But clearly tight-traps are a problem spot for me.

    I'm all ears! Will try to post more info when I have time. Super thanxo. icon_biggrin.gif


    Yoga is not the answer. I started to develop chronic upper back stiffness and pain after doing yoga for 3 years and giving up my gym membership. I talked to my yoga teacher who told me he weight trains 3 times a week! I started back up at the gym and I was fine in 2 weeks. It's all about balance. I get a deep Massage every month or so.... Also really important .... It's not a luxury when you sit in front of a computer all day long.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 03, 2014 6:51 AM GMT
    Thanks guys - all input is greatly appreciated! I have a theracane - which I'm gonna start to use regularly, and I'm going to incorporate a few other ideas you've suggested. I don't sit at a computer all day anymore (ironically... in a way!) but I think I need to stretch more in general. Keep 'em comin'... icon_biggrin.gif
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    Mar 03, 2014 1:03 PM GMT
    I have the same problem. Drives me crazy. But something I found that helps and is cheap... I just use a tennis ball, put it up against a wall behind my upper back and roll it back and forth along my muscles. I can feel the knots loosening up as I do it. Probably not as good as a real massage, but it works.
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    Mar 17, 2014 10:29 PM GMT
    vamuscle saidI have the same problem. Drives me crazy. But something I found that helps and is cheap... I just use a tennis ball, put it up against a wall behind my upper back and roll it back and forth along my muscles. I can feel the knots loosening up as I do it. Probably not as good as a real massage, but it works.


    As a massage therapist Id like to agree with VAMUSCLE... I'd add that before you do that, warm it up with a show bath or heating pad....

    Foam rollers help too. :-)

    I myself have been having trap pain... one of the best things you had do is to use that muscle. if its a trap issue. Do like 1 or 2 sets, twenty reps, of like 20 lbs. Remember motion is lotions gentlemen!
    I have to remember that I am getting older and need to ease back into lifting after I take a week off. I try to massage myself but its hard to heal yourself. My ex was also a massage therapist... the only thing I miss about him actually...
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Mar 18, 2014 7:33 AM GMT
    Foam roller and lacrosse balls do the trick for me.
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    Mar 19, 2014 8:10 PM GMT
    At our crossfit box, they more or less teach you to try a tennis ball but if you can take it, a lacrosse ball (look up where you put it on your upper back on youtube) like so:



    There's also foam rollers - but for something more advanced:
    http://www.amazon.com/Trigger-Point-Performance-Revolutionary-Roller/dp/B0040EGNIU/ (I have one of these), or (which frankly looks a bit too frightening):

    http://www.amazon.com/DSS-RumbleRoller-Foam-Rollers-inch/dp/B00IB6AU6E/



    And then there's also something called the thoracic rotation - you can watch a video here: "Use this simple move to improve your posture and upper-body strength"
    http://www.menshealth.com/fitness/instafit-thoracic-rotation#.

    Or here (it feels great):


    Oh - your theracane looks cool too - well, cool or a fantastic torturing device icon_wink.gif
    http://www.amazon.com/Thera-Cane-JMAS5000-Massager/dp/B000PRMCJU/

    And more (thoracic spine):
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/foam-rolling-exercises-rules_n_4213279.html
    2013-11-04-Roller04_003.gif

    And more here - just found this:
    http://www.therapeuticassociates.com/injury-prevention-and-care-sports-medicine/foam-roller-stretching-backspine/
  • Hunkymonkey

    Posts: 215

    Mar 19, 2014 8:21 PM GMT
    I had this pretty bad. A combination of sports massage and sports acupuncture cleared it up after a few weeks, plus I was given stretching exercises by the massage therapist.