Upper Trap Relaxation Technique

Try this exercise if your neck and upper traps feel tight! According to Cools et al. 2014, "the prevalence of neck and shoulder pain is known to increase with computer workload. There is a strong relationship between chronic neck and shoulder pain and dysfunction of the scapula. The scapula functions as a ‘bridge’ between the shoulder complex and the cervical spine and plays a very important role in providing both mobility and stability to the neck/shoulder region." According to Bogduk 2009, "noxious stimulation of the atlanto-occipital and lateral atlanto-axial joints, the C2–3 zygapophysial joint, and the C2–3 intervertebral disc can produce pain in the occipital region." We also know the upper trapezius muscle originates on the occipital bone and upper cervical C1-C3 spinous processes. Taking this information into consideration, it would be wise to address the upper trapezius for trigger points, muscle length deficits, and/or overuse. To Perform... 1) Lay on your stomach and get into a comfortable position. Consider a pillow under your stomach, or under your chest, if your spine goes into excessive lordosis or kyphosis when you lay on your stomach. 2) Rest your forehead on your heads and relax your arms on the table. Your head and arms should be fully supported so that you can relax. 3) Push your hands into the table and pull your shoulder blades down towards your feet. 4) Hold this position for 5s, and repeat for a total of 5 reps. 5) Your neck and the region of the upper traps should be relaxed while you perform this exercise. The goal of this exercise is to primarily relax the upper traps. To promote muscular inhibition, you want to cue the shoulder blades into depression and downward rotation as this is the opposite muscle action of the upper traps. Keep your neck 'long and relaxed' during this exercise. If you feel your head rising off the table and wanting to extend, take a break and try again with less force. Citations Cools et al 2014. "Rehabilitation of scapular dyskinesis: from the office worker to the elite overhead athlete" Nikolai Bogduk, Jayantilal Govind 2009. "Cervicogenic headache: an assessment of the evidence on clinical diagnosis, invasive tests, and treatment"
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