Hello Stephanie Mckinney,
To add to the other suggestions, which I agree with,
remember to keep the area strong.
A balanced body is a happy body, strong and flexible; proper diet and hydration, too.
Is the person stressed?
I prefer to work the entire body at least once since everything is connected.
For traps, definitely work from the head, to the hands to the waist.
Karin and Susan offer some great suggestions, the only one I would add, is the use of a tennis ball to get into specific knots. I sometimes use this vs. a foam roller to get into the origin and attachment areas of the trap. I’ll have the client position themselves against a wall or the floor with the ball on the area they’re having issue with. They can control the pressure just as they can with the foam roller. I sometimes find, rather than rolling out the muscle, applying gental, consistent pressure on a point provides great release than rolling it out.
Of course, all of this is after medical clearance that the pain is caused by another issue other than tight muscles.
I answer on the assumption that medical problems have been ruled out and that the ‘pain’ is a result of chronic tightness.
Pain in the upper trapezius is often the result of poor posture, stemming from hours on the computer (or texting) with elevated and forward rounded shoulders and a head-forward position.
The strategy that I employ with my clients is first of all awareness. Many don’t even know that their shoulders are almost permanently attached to their earlobes, and having them realize this postural deficiency is my first priority. Next I develop exercises to strengthen the back muscles as appropriate, and I usually include the muscles of the rotator cuff as well. Also stretching of the front as well as exercises from the MELT method.
It is important, though, to emphasize good posture. I find that that this is half the battle when people tell you how they are now beginning to notice it.