Oh how I love word play!
Let’s get right into it – the traps. The full name is Trapezius, but that makes it sound more like a contraption used in the circus.
Where are the traps? What do they do that I need to know about? Allow me to explain…
The traps cover a larger area than most of you may realize (please see the picture below). I’ve also inserted an image from the 4th edition flashcards by Trail Guide to the Body to help you identify where these muscles attach and what actions they’re responsible for.
Times you may notice these boogers? When you’re holding your cell between your shoulder and ear. Also when you’re tilting your head back in attempt to show your feeling of boredom.
The traps are one of the “hot spots” for where people think their tension resides. What is actually happening is this: when you’re stressed because of the traffic you’re stuck in or the fact that you’re going to miss a presentation because you’ve missed your flight, your body is displaying that stress. Your body physically displays all your emotions. When your body contorts itself to display those emotions, there are muscles contracting to put you in those positions. When the muscles are contracting like that for a lot of time on end, it’s like you’re giving those muscles a workout you didn’t intend to. They’re getting stronger and those tight spots are getting tighter. Eventually leading to reduced ROM (or range of motion) and often times pain.
So what can you do to help yourself if you have issues with your traps?
- Static stretching of the Neck and Scapula. (http://www.health.harvard.edu/shoulders/stretching-exercises-frozen-shoulder)(http://precisionfitpb.com/stretching-for-strength-training/)
- Self myofascial release such as foam rolling. These are some of my favorite tools for the traps: tennis balls, lacrosse balls, and foam balls. Recently I’ve become a huge fan of using dimple balls for the traps and any other muscle with really solid muscle spasms.
- Take breaks! If you work at a desk, taking breaks can be hugely beneficial. It might not seem like much, but even looking up for a minute or two or standing up for 30 seconds could help break the constant muscle contraction.
- Hydration! As always – drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces per day to keep you on track to not dehydrate. Your muscles are thirsty! Also – this is a great way to get those breaks in.
Until next time!