My trapezius muscle has been killing me as of late and has really been hurting my posture. I have been doing exercises to stretch and relax my trapezius such as squeezing my shoulders back, shrugging my shoulder, and stretching my head to my shoulder laterally. These exercises have been making my shoulders hurt even more, and it feels it inflames it. So I was just wondering what can I do to relax this muscle. When I massage it I can feel that it is swollen, so I know something is irritated. I have not been lifting weights or exercising much. What exercises and stretch can I do to relieve this tension?
Sorry to read that you’re in pain. All of the answers are right on the mark. The trapezius is relatively ‘big’ muscle, traversing a significant length of the spinal column (commonly referred to as upper, middle and lower trap.) Identifying the specific site of your pain (I assume you’re referring to pain at the proximal attachments, not distal) could help your physician, physical therapist and massage therapist determine the most effective therapy. Certainly consult with them before you try something on your own. It will help minimize the risk of exacerbating the problem.
Shrugging might just continue the discomfort. Have you tried heat and/or ice?
As Jocelyn mentioned a foam roller may help, or a tennis ball against the wall with your upper back pressed to the ball.
Are you at a computer all day putting more stress on your traps? You may get some relief by gently stretching often at your desk, relaxing the muscle and not tightening as shrugs do.
There is a difference in my mind between tightness and swelling. Tightness is a situation that can be easily managed, swelling is more severe and a professional may be advisable.
Both Karin and Harris have offered up the physician recommendation and I would second, or third, that option.
Sometimes more is not better. But rest, water and proper nutrition can provide us with better relief than treatment of the specific area.
We also tend to carry stress through our traps, so good stress relieving strategies may also help. You can try deep breathing, meditation, visualization, etc.
Also be mindful of your posture throughout the day. If you spend a lot of time driving, make sure you’re not sitting too far from the steering wheel and thereby rounding your shoulders forward to maintain contact with the wheel for example.
Lastly, foam rolling is a great technique for releasing tight traps and lats.
Good luck. I hope you get some relief soon.
It seems like your trapezius gets irritated with the few thing you have tried and a guess from anyone other than a physician could make things worst for you. For this reason I think a visit to you doctor might be a good idea. In the mean time, I wouldn’t do anything to your trapezius that makes it irritated. You could try to stay away from upper body exercises for a few days to see if it gets any better, but this might not fix your issue.