The upper trapezius muscle (image below) controls the health of the neck, upper back and shoulders. If this muscle is, then the resulting pinched nerve/disc herniations will cause headaches, arm neuropathy, and upper back/rib neuropathy.
As you can see in the image, the upper trapezius attached to the upper neck, back of the shoulder, and to the lower middle back. When this muscle tightens it can cause the shoulders to the rise, middle back hunching and forward head posture. This is usually the result of or caused from poor posture.
Before any treatment of this unhealthy muscle, bone and nerve conditions must be ruled in or rule out. This will allow steady recovery. Chiropractor can determine these conditions through an x-ray analysis of the neck, upper back and shoulder (if symptomatic).
The First Stretch
When it is safe to start the upper trapezius rehab, the first steps to recovery will be to stretch this muscle. Sam demonstrates this stretch here.
Here are the steps for the upper trapezius stretch to stretch the right side:
Stand or sit in a good posture position you can tolerate.
Place your left hand over or in front of the right ear.
Turn your head over your right shoulder to tolerance.
Use your weight of your hand to let the head fall forward toward the chest.
Add tension to feel only a tightness by pushing down with the weight of the hand.
Do not cause muscle pain when adding tension.
Hold for 30 sec. to 1 minute, or recommended time by your Chiropractor.
Perform steps 1-7 for the left side.
This stretch should be performed at least daily and, if the muscle is painful, followed with ice. Once the muscle is no longer painful AND a better posture in a relaxed position is achieved, then strengthening the upper trapezius can continue the rehab.
First Strength Exercise
When strengthening this muscle, caution is recommended due to shoulder and neck range of motion limitations. It is best to have full range of motion in each joint, so start with this simple pull back lying on your stomach to prevent setbacks in your recovery.
Start this exercise lying on your stomach, relaxing your head to your preference, and on the side of bed or couch letting your arm dangle of the side (left side depicted here).
Use a small weight in your hand (water bottle used in these images).
Use your upper back and the back of your shoulder to pull the water bottle straight up.
Hold in upper position for 1 second and slowly lower to starting position over 2-3 seconds.
Repeat 5-10 times, and add a heavier weight at your tolerance.
Repeat steps 1-4 for the right side.
This exercise will help strengthen the upper back, lower neck and back of the shoulder to strengthen a better posture.
To summarize using the sequence of an x-ray analysis, stretching and lastly strengthening the upper trapezius will lead to feeling and looking better.
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