If you’ve ever experienced neck pain then you know it’s not fun. There are so many little muscles in your neck that, if tweaked the wrong way, can cause serious pain and discomfort. The neck muscles that get the least amount of attention are the lower portion of the trapezius muscles. The trapezius muscles are the large grouping of muscles in the center of your upper back. They range from the middle of the back to the sides of the shoulders to behind the neck. They have a direct impact on the mobility and comfort of the neck.
If you’ve ever had neck pain but can’t seem to figure out where it’s coming from, try considering the lower traps. These muscles can be triggered by even the slightest awkward movements. Pain in this area is often triggered by overuse, bad posture, and even poor sleep position. These muscles do not get the attention they deserve.
To find out if you have tight or strained lower traps, try moving your head down as if you are looking down. While in this position with your head facing down, try turning your head gently from side to side and looking left and right. If you feel any tightness or pull in the middle to upper portion of your back, then you have tightness that needs to be dealt with. If this tightness isn’t taken care of, it can be very uncomfortable to sleep, work, or simply carry on through everyday life.
To fix this issue and bring comfort and mobility back into your life, consider the following stretching routine for neck and trap relief. This comes in three parts. Part one is to simply roll the neck from side to side, trying to keep the chin close to the chest as it moves across. Part two is to use both hands and place them behind your head, pulling your head down. It’s very important to do all these stretches very slowly as the neck is very delicate. The last part to this is to pull you neck from side to side. Take your right hand and grab the opposite side of your head and pull down to your right shoulder. Do the same for the other side as well. Neck pain has been more of a problem as I started working at a desk. Doing these stretches makes it feel much better and I’m also able to sleep better because of it. I do about 30 seconds for each part for my neck.
Another great and underutilized tool is the lacrosse ball for massages. A lacrosse ball is ideal for massaging the neck and back because it is hard, round, smooth, and the perfect size. Place the ball on the knot/trigger point that is bothering you and lean back on it against a smooth wall. Lean on the ball and work the ball over the sore area by moving your body slowly. Make sure to put enough pressure over the area, but not too much where you are grimacing. This is one of my favorite ways to decrease neck and back pain. Although it can be uncomfortable during the message, afterwards feels really great.
If you have neck pain or discomfort than there’s a good chance your lower traps aren’t getting the care they need. Your lower traps are key to neck mobility and comfort and the stretches and routines that are laid out above can help you reach that goal. With the right stretches and massages, your neck pain will go away and you’ll feel more comfortable sleeping, working, exercising, and every other small daily activity.
What has helped you with neck pain?