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  • Writer's pictureRain Green

How to Self-Massage Trapezius Muscle to Relieve Neck & Shoulder Pain

Updated: Apr 13

The daily clinical experience of thousands of therapists and physicians strongly indicates that most of our common neck pains, shoulder pain, and many other puzzling physical complaints are caused by chronic muscle tightness in the neck and shoulders, particularly in the trapezius muscle.

The trapezius muscle, a triangle-shaped upper back muscle, plays a crucial role in stabilizing and moving the scapula (shoulder blade), as well as in controlling movement of the head, neck, arms, shoulders, and torso. Additionally, it aids in stabilizing the spine and maintaining posture.

Physical and mental stress can exacerbate this tightness, resulting in symptoms such as tight neck and shoulder muscles, chronic muscle tightness in neck and shoulders, neck and shoulder muscle pain, and tension headaches. Individuals may also experience ear ringing and jaw pain related to the tightness in their trapezius muscles.

People who sit at a computer for several hours a day have a higher risk of slouching, which brings the shoulders forward and causes the upper back to hunch. This will result in the head to come forward. But in order to see forward, we lift the head up, which causes compression on the back of the upper neck where the skull meets.

This mechanical encroachment causes pressure on the pathway where the spinal accessory nerve enters and exits the skull. When the nerve is irritated, it sends signals to the muscle and causes contraction, in this case, it’s the upper trapezius and another muscle in the front of the neck called sternocleidomastoid. Over a period of time these micro-contractions lead to trigger points and cause tension headache. It is imperative to address the root of the problem : the shortened soft tissues between the upper neck and skull that’s causing compression that innervates the upper trapezius.

In an article titled Differential effects of mental concentration and acute psychosocial stress on cervical muscle activity and posture“, published in the Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology in June of 2013. It found that trapezius muscle activity significantly increased from the high stress conditions compared to the other muscles. This demonstrates how sensitive to stress the trapezius muscle is.

Poor posture slouching hunchback

In a March 2014 "issue of the journal of Pain Research and Treatment", the authors did a study and found a strong association between neck and shoulder pain and trapezius muscle tenderness among office workers. Their study confirms most neck and shoulder pain is related pain and tenderness of the muscles. The severity of tenderness was more in women than men, about 23% vs 7%, which is similar to findings in fibromyalgia.

A February 2014 study in the journal BioMed Research International indicates a high prevalence of trapezius muscle pain among elderly women doing computer work causing chronic painful muscles. They found almost 40 percent of these women suffered from trapezius myalgia.

A 2021 study in the "International Journal of Clinical Practice" found that upper trapezius muscle stiffness increased in rounded shoulder posture. The use of smart phones and computers for a long period causes posture disorders like rounded shoulder and forward head postures, which are known to cause neck pain.

Symptoms of Trapezius Myalgia:

  • ·Neck pain.

  • ·Shoulder pain

  • Headaches.

  • Jaw pain.

  • ·Stiff neck.

  • ·Burning pain in the shoulder and arm.

  • Tingling/Numbness down the arm and/or into the hand

Therefore, trapezius muscle should be an area of focus for relaxation, massage, and strengthening to help avoid neck & shoulder pain and tension headache.

How to Relieve your neck and shoulder pain?

Firstly, you need exercises to help the trapezius do its job well, stabilising the shoulder and upper back.

We spoke to some experts to learn some easy ways to work your trapezius, whether you’re a regular at the gym or prefer to work out in your living room. For best results, you’ll need a foam roller or a chair.

If you’re using a foam roller, position it under your thoracic spine.

Allow your head and glutes to fall on either side. Extend your arms above your head to deepen the stretch.

Hold the position for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times

Trapezius Muscle Exercise

If you’re using a chair, sit facing forward and allow your upper body to fall over the back of the chair.

Extend your arms above your head for a deeper stretch.

Hold the position for 5 seconds, then release. Repeat 5 times.

Patients with Trapezius Myalgia need to be dedicated to regular exercise tight trapezius muscles to ensure they recover fully.

Trapezius Trigger Points

Remember: When performing any exercise, be certain to use proper form. If you’re uncertain, please consult a personal trainer or other fitness professional.

Secondly, if you’ve experienced trigger point release or therapy, you’ll understand that the relief can be dramatic. However the pain and muscle tension usually come back. Trigger point applications of therapy just shrink the trigger point to where it is not hurting. Of course, it’s still there and will gradually grow and start hurting again.

If you are considering a massage tool at home, Please don't use massage gun on your neck! You can try LittleMum Trapezius Massager to be applied repeatedly to continue to diminish the trigger points at home.

LittleMum Trapezius Massager

LittleMum Trapezius Massager, made of 100% food grade silicone, sturdy but highly resilience and spring back when compressed, perfectly mimics the pressure produced by deep tissue massage therapists, targets the deep layers of trapezius area to ease muscle, improve blood flow and aid in recovery from trapezius strain symptoms. It lifts your head to support your neck in the neutral aligned position and helps your neck stay in its optimal C-curve consistent with the rest of your spine.

How to Use LittleMum Trapezius Massager to release trapezius muscle

How to release trapezius muscle

1. Lie on your back and feet firmly planted on the ground. Slot massager under you back. Locate the first two smaller pressure points underneath your sub-occipitalis area and move slowly to find the right position for you.

Trapezius Muscle Massage

2. You can apply varying levels of pressure with your body weight and hand movements to determine how deep and pressure you wish to apply. Changing the surface which you are laying will also vary the pressure level. Lying on bed is the easier way than on carpet or a mat.

Trapezius Massage Pain

3. You can do arm circle to exercise your trapezius muscles while lying on the massager. You may also prefer to use it in conjunction with LittleMum Back Massager as many others do.

How to release trapezius muscle Pain

4. For intense massage lover, lie on your back with your knees bent, and feet flat on the floor under your knees, raise your hip, lifting entire lower back up off ground. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to your starting position.

How to release neck and shoulder pain

5. Or use a chair to firm your body while raising your hip to lift the lower back up off the ground. Your shoulder muscles will feel more pressure in this way. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds, and then return to your starting position

6. If you feel the pressure point domes NOT prominent enough for your dense knots, you can fill a small face towel in the bottom gap to prevent massager’s arch from collapsing when you settle weight on the massager.

It is common to feel a degree of discomfort during the massage itself. The whole point of this massager is to break up muscle tension, adhesions and scar tissue that often lie in deeper musculature. This pain would naturally fade away in short time after you finish your 5-10 minutes session.

LittleMum Trapezius Massager

You can buy LittleMum Trapezius Massage via Amazon or LittleMum official Website. Both 30 days returnable. Click the link below to buy it via Amazon. 15 years warranty.

If you prefer releasing trapezius trigger points tension with the Massage Cane, then LittleMum Massager Cane might be a smart choice.

Compared with lightweight plastic massage cane, LittleMum Massage Cane allow you have a much higher level of control over where you’re massaging so that you can pinpoint trouble spots and release specific trigger points with better accuracy, eliminate deep rooted knots, helps to ease trapezius muscle stress and tension

LittleMum Massage cane’s thumb-like knob applies a thumb point of sturdy pressure to a trigger point, neither sharp nor stiff , which makes it comparable to a masseuse’s thumb or elbow, and highly effective for trapezius myofascial release.

LittleMum Massage Cane is made of stainless steel, LittleMum Massage cane comes with 15 years warranty. You can purchase via Amazon by clicking the link below or via littleMum official website.

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