Upper Trapezius Stretches


The trapezius muscle begins at the base of the skull, runs along the side of the neck and ends at the point of the shoulder. A tight trapezius is painful and can limit your range of motion. Tightness and pain develop in the region due to injury, repetitive stress and poor posture. While stretching can relieve this pain, overstretching can make the pain worse. It is important to stretch until you feel resistance but before you feel pain.

Upper Trapezius Stretch

Stand upright, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Place your left arm behind your back so that you can reach your right hand back and grasp your left wrist. Gently pull wrist toward the right. Tilt your head down toward your left shoulder. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, release, and switch arms and stretch to the other side.

Seated Upper Trapezius Stretch

Sit in a sturdy chair, with your feet flat on the floor. Reach behind your back with your left hand. Reach above and over your head with your right arm so that your right hand is over your left ear. Use your right hand to gently stretch your head toward your right shoulder. Hold, release and switch sides to repeat.

Hands-Free Upper Trapezius Stretch

Sit in a sturdy chair, with shoulders relaxed. Look over your right shoulder, keeping shoulders even. Gradually raise your head until you are looking up. Hold, then slowly reverse the process, lowering the head and looking over the right shoulder, then straight ahead. Repeat to the other side.

Assisted Upper Trapezius Stretch

This stretch requires a helper. Lay down on your back. Turn your head to the right as far as possible, then drop your chin down toward your shoulder. Your helper assists in this stretch in several ways. He can place his hand on your left shoulder to keep it flat against the floor while you turn your head. He can also make sure you don't raise your right shoulder up to meet your chin. Hold the stretch, then repeat in the opposite direction.