Upper Trapezius

General information about the Upper Trapezius

The upper trapezius is part of the trapezius muscle however many people deal with the trapezius by splitting it into three areas – the upper, middle and lower trapezius. The reason for this is that those three areas perform different functions and movements. The upper trapezius is a notorious offender in shoulder pain, neck pain and headaches. It is a very thin muscle that is very commonly hypertonic due to people unconsciously tensing it during their poor sitting and standing posture. This is easy to spot when you look at someone since their shoulder blades are up near their ears however many people are unaware they are even doing it. It has been shown to be a part of the fight, flight or freeze response. When a human is stressed they often unconsciously adopt this posture and it becomes a habitual ‘way of being’ however it is a very inefficient posture since the upper trapezius is not a strong muscles and doesn’t have the endurance required to play a role in core posture.

Origin and insertion for the Upper Trapezius

The upper trapezius originates from the external occipital protuberance, medial third of the superior nuchal line, the ligamentum nuchae and the spinous process of C7 and inserts into the lateral third of the clavicle, the medial aspect of the acromion process and the spine of the scapula. For those without anatomy training, it goes from the base of the head and the upper neck and to the collarbone and shoulder blade area.

Role of the Upper Trapezius in common postural issues

As touched on above, the upper trapezius plays a large role in kyphosis and also in forward head posture, cervical lordosis and upper crossed syndrome. In all of these situations, the trapezius is too short and tight and is taking over the job of larger more durable postural muscles.

Common injuries of the Upper Trapezius

  • Upper Trapezius Strain
  • Trigger Points
  • General Inflammation
  • Hypertonicity

Best massage techniques for releasing the Upper Trapezius

There are many effective techniques for the Upper Trapezius. Trigger points are extremely common in this muscle so they can be treated by a traditional trigger point approach or less invasive techniques such as positional release. After the trigger points are released, some active stretching can be used (such as PNF or MET) to prevent the trigger points returning quickly. Deep tissue and myofascial release also work really well with the Upper Trapezius

I have a tight Upper Trapezius… How can I book a massage with you?

You can book a massage by calling 0449 264 980 or 

If you feel you have an issue with your Upper Trapezius, please mention it in the custom notes for the booking.