How to Treat Trapezius Pain – The aching and burning associated with trapezius pain can be unbearable. In this article, we’ll show you some helpful solutions.

It starts with a dull ache between your shoulder blades. Before you know it, you’re totally distracted by the pain.

The trapezius muscle is very susceptible to stressors. For example, sleeping in the wrong position, holding a phone all day, or breastfeeding can cause pain in this muscle.

We’ll start by talking about the basic anatomy of the trapezius. Then we’ll show you how to treat any pain that you’re having in this muscle. Let’s get started!

The Trapezius Muscle

The trapezius muscle is a triangle-shaped muscle that sits on the back of the neck.

It lies over the shoulders and attaches at the base of the skull. Downwardly, it extends to the mid back.

One of the jobs of the trap muscles are to help create a “shrug” movement with the shoulders.

Due to its position on the body, the trapezius is susceptible to developing sore knots (also called “trigger points”). Trapezius pain can cause your neck to hurt.

It can also give you a mild headache, cause pain behind your eyes, and even cause discomfort behind at the base of your skull. You might even feel burning between the shoulder blades.

What Causes Trapezius Pain?

Here are some of the common causes of trapezius pain:

  • Stress: What’s the first thing people do when they’re stressed? They tense their shoulders. Unfortunately, this can cause a trapezius strain. Whenever you’re stressed, remember to relax your shoulders!
  • Holding the Phone: Some people’s line of work requires them to hold a phone between their ear and shoulder all day long. But as you can guess, this causes strain in the trap muscles. We recommend buying a headset.
  • Heavy Backpacks: If you wear a heavy backpack all day, then you’ll wat to carry only what you need. Leave unnecessary items at home. All that excess weight is putting way too much stress on your trap muscles.
  • Tight Bra Straps: Most women don’t realize how much damage their doing by wearing tight bra straps all day. If you don’t know how to choose the right size, get help from someone who does. It will make all the difference.
  • Breastfeeding: When you breastfeed, you typically have your shoulders hunched forward for extended periods of time. Don’t do this. Instead, focus on keeping your shoulders back.
  • Head in Fixed Position: Don’t sleep all night with your head in the same fixed position. Change it up throughout the night to prevent your trap muscles from straining.
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Additionally, any job that requires you to keep your head turned to one side for a long time is bad.

For example, do you turn your head to view the computer screen? If so, know that this can cause a trapezius strain.

Do You Play The Piano? 

Playing piano for extended periods of time can lead to trapezius discomfort/strain. When playing, try to keep your sheet music in front of you.

This will prevent you from turning your head for many hours straight. Also, focus on good form- shoulders back, not pushing keys forcefully, etc.

Relieving Trapezius Pain

One of the best ways to relieve pain in the trapezius muscle is through exercise. Exercising your trap muscles will help circulate blood through them, helping them relax.

Also, exercise helps strengthen these muscles and provides more support.

Using The Body Back Buddy

If you’re suffering from pain in the trapezius muscle, then we recommend buying a Body Back Buddy.

This tool is very effective at helping you reach pressure points that you couldn’t reach otherwise.

You can use this tool to massage knots out of the trapezius muscle.

It’s strategically designed to help you relax tension and dissolve pain.

You can buy it on Amazon for about $20. It’s helped hundreds of thousands of people around the world relieve their pain.

Tennis Ball Therapy

Another way to relieve your pain is with tennis all therapy.

There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Simply place the ball behind your trap muscles and move it around.

Find the tender areas and gently roll the tennis ball there. One option is to lay on your back with the ball underneath you.

Another option is to place the ball between your trap muscles and the wall (like in the picture). Both methods work equally effectively.


Believe it or not, swimming can be a great way to alleviate trapezius muscle pain. The reason is because it doesn’t put excess stress on the muscles.

Make sure that you use a variety of strokes so that you don’t put too much stress on the trap muscles.

4 Exercises Loosen Tight Trapezius Muscles

Tight trap muscles are bound to happen. The good news is that they rarely lead to serious medical problems.

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Still, they can be painful, so here are four easy exercises to loosen them up:

  1. Shoulder Shrugs: This is an easy exercise that you can do several times throughout the day. Do them slowly and exaggerate the movements. This will make the exercise more effective.
  2. Ear to Shoulder: As its name implies, this exercise involves pushing your ear to your shoulder. Hold for about 30 seconds before switching to the opposite side. Sitting or standing is fine.
  3. Cat-Cow Pose: This is a yoga exercise that’s very effective at loosening up the trap muscles. Plus, it’s really easy to do. Here’s a great article on how to do this exercise properly.
  4. Cobra Pose: This is another yoga exercise that you can use to reduce trapezius pain. This exercise will increase spinal flexibility, strengthen your arms and legs, and release tension in your trap muscles.

Perform these exercises a minimum of twice per day (once in the morning and once at night). The more, the better.

Also, pay attention to your posture throughout the day so that you’re not reversing the progress you’ve made with these exercises.

OTC Drugs

If the pain is unbearable, then OTC pain medicine is recommended. These include:

  • Tylenol
  • Advil
  • Aleve
  • Aspirin

Make sure that you talk with your doctor about these medicines before taking them. This is especially true if you’re currently on any medications.

Remember that this should be a last resort- it’s much better to treat your pain naturally (exercise, better posture, etc.).


In summary, it’s better to be proactive and prevent a trapezius strain in the first place.

The best way to do this is to reduce your stress levels. Stress causes people to tighten their shoulder muscles, which can lead to a strain.

Secondly, pay attention to your posture throughout the day. If you notice your shoulders shifting forward, bring them back.

This simple tip will go a long way towards preventing trapezius pain. If you’re already in pain, then try the exercises and relief options mentioned above.

Some may work better than others so experiment with all of them. Good luck and thanks for reading!

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