Exercises for Trapezius Pain & Dizziness
Damage or weakness in the trapezius muscle can lead to headaches, nausea and dizziness, according to massage therapists at the Deep Muscle Therapy Center in Wilmington, Delaware. The trapezius muscle is a big muscle with a big job and despite its size and strength, it can be easily damaged. Exercises to strengthen the trapezius and neck muscles can help alleviate and prevent pain and symptoms.
According to a study published in the January 2008 issue of "Arthritis Care and Research," muscle strengthening exercise like shrugs help relieve trapezius and neck pain. The study recommends training the trapezius muscle three times per week. To perform shrugs, start with a dumbbell weight of 15 to 25 lb. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your hands at your sides and arms fully extended. Then simply shrug your shoulders upward as high as you can like you are trying to touch your shoulders to your ears. Hold at the peak top point for a second and then lower to the starting position. Perform at least 10 repetitions per set.
Upright rows strengthen and work the trapezius muscle and upper back. The exercise can be performed with either a barbell or light dumbbells. The "Arthritis Care and Research" study also indicated that upright rows were beneficial in treating trapezius pain. Start with light dumbbells of 5 to 10 lb. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at chest level with the ends of the dumbbells facing each other and your palms facing your body. Then simply bring the weights up to your chin; your elbows should move outward during the move and be higher than your shoulders at the end of the exercise. Perform at least 10 repetitions per set.
Neck side bending can help relieve trapezius pain as it stretches and strengthens the muscles in the neck as well as the trapezius muscle. Start by looking straight ahead and then tilt your head to the right as far as you can, like you are trying to touch your ear to your shoulder, but move only your neck. Hold the stretch at the farthest point for a second and then tilt to the other side. Repeat for at least five repetitions on each side.
Neck rotation exercises can help stretch and strengthen the neck and trapezius muscles. Start by looking straight ahead and then turn only your neck as far as you can to look over one shoulder. Hold the stretch at the farthest point for a second and then repeat on the other shoulder. Alternate from shoulder to shoulder until you have performed at least five repetitions in both directions.
Explore In Depth
- Idea Health and Fitness Association: Helping Upper Trapezius Pain
- Ourieff J, Agarwal A. Anatomy, Back, Trapezius. [Updated 2018 Dec 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Updated December 6, 2018.
- Terson de paleville DG, Mckay WB, Folz RJ, Ovechkin AV. Respiratory motor control disrupted by spinal cord injury: mechanisms, evaluation, and restoration. Transl Stroke Res. 2011;2(4):463-73. doi:10.1007/s12975-011-0114-0
- Kamali F, Sinaei E, Morovati M. Comparison of Upper Trapezius and Infraspinatus Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy by Dry Needling in Overhead Athletes With Unilateral Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. J Sport Rehabil. 2019;28(3):243-249. doi:10.1123/jsr.2017-0207
- Kamali, F. Comparison of Upper Trapezius and Infraspinatus Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy by Dry Needling in Overhead Athletes With Unilateral Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. J Sport Rehabil. Jan 2018.
- Kendall, Florence, McCreary, Elizabeth Kendall, Provance, Patricia Geise. Muscles Testing and Function 4th ed. Williams and Wilkins. Baltimore, Maryland, 1993.
Based in Harker Heights, Texas, Timothy Onkst has been writing about sports, fitness and health since 2003. His articles have appeared in a variety of publications including "Texas Roundball" magazine, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports and other websites.