Functional Anatomy Part 5: The Trapezius

If you have ever experienced neck discomfort, it may be a smart idea to learn about the lower trapezius muscle fibres. This group of muscle fibres is part of the trapezius muscle. The lower trapezius fibres are typically under used in anyone who has poor upper body posture (forward rounded shoulders, slouching, poking chin) and can do wonders at improving posture and eliminating neck pain.

1. Where is this muscle?
These fibres of the trapezius muscle group start from the fourth thoracic vertebrae (middle of your spine, mid-back) to the 12th thoracic vertebrae and insert into your scapulae (shoulder blade).

2. What does it do?
This group of muscle fibres assists in bringing the shoulder blade (scapula) down (depression), in (adduction) and back (upward rotation). It also assists in arching your spine back (spine extension). If you pull your shoulder blades in, down and back as well as arch your back, you may begin to realize how this muscle helps your posture!

3. Common injuries?
In 12 years I have never personally come across an injury to this muscle, but have discovered it to be a fantastic muscle for improving upper body posture. Improving upper body posture assists in rehabilitating and preventing neck and shoulder injuries by taking the load off many muscle fibres in these regions.

4. How do you strengthen this muscle?
This is a tiny group of muscle fibres so do not be surprised how difficult this simple exercise can be. The first step is to lie on your stomach with your forehead on the ground, arms straight at ten and two o’clock, and thumbs pointing to the roof. Pull your shoulder blades down and together to engage the lower fibres of the trapezius. Take a breath in/out, and then relax. The next progression is to repeat, but lift your arms off the ground and hold in the air for a breath in/out. Try to get to ten lifts in a row but remember to relax and reset your shoulders back and down before each lift. If you feel any lower back discomfort, lift your belly button off the floor and squeeze your glutes (bum) before each lift. You should not experience any neck discomfort during this exercise.

Keep in mind this is a simple explanation of this muscle and consider getting in touch with a professional for more detail. Remember that you should never exercise through pain and of course please play safely and have fun.