The trapezius muscle is the large triangle-shaped muscle that originates at the base of the neck, extends across to the shoulder blades and connects to the lower thoracic vertebrae in the middle of the back. It is involved in neck and head rotation, supporting the shoulders and arms and rotating the shoulder blades to lift the arms above the shoulders. The trapezius muscle is prone to stress, but stretching and exercise can reduce this muscle pain and stress.
Shoulder shrugs are one of the most efficient exercises to help alleviate muscle pain in the trapezius area. A study headed by L.L. Andersen published in the June 2008 issue of "Physical Therapy" found shoulder shrugs to have the highest muscle activation in the trapezius muscle. The study concluded that shoulder shrugs were beneficial treatment for chronic neck muscle pain. Shrugs can be done sitting or standing and with dumbbells, barbells or without weight. Stand with your back straight and feet shoulder-width apart, arms at the sides holding dumbbells. Raise your shoulders toward your ears, tighten and hold. Release and repeat for 15 times.
Upright rows also target the trapezius muscle. Dumbbells or barbells can be used with this exercise. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your hands holding dumbbells resting on the front of your thighs. Raise the dumbbells up to the front of your shoulders with the elbows out to the sides. Lower and repeat for 15 repetitions.
Yoga Neck Stretch
Stretching increases flexibility and reduces muscle stress. Stand with your back erect and feet shoulder-width apart and arms at your sides. Lift your right arm over your head and gently grab your left ear. Gently pull your head to the right shoulder, trying to touch the ear to your shoulder. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds. Slowly release and repeat with the other arm. Next, take both hands and place them on the top of your head. Gently pull your head toward your chest. When you feel the stretch, stop and hold for 20 to30 seconds. Slowly release and relax.
The shoulder roll is a neck and shoulder relaxation exercise from Ohio State University Medical Center. Stand with you back straight and feet shoulder-width apart. Roll your shoulders up and then in a forward circular motion. Perform this motion for five repetitions and then reverse directions for another five repetitions. The rotations should be performed in a slow, controlled way.