Tight Traps? Try This 10-Minute Stretch Sequence From a Physical Therapist

You can loosen tight neck and upper back muscles in just a matter of minutes with these stretches.
Image Credit: Drazen Zigic/iStock/GettyImages

Sore quads are certainly no walk in the park. A tight lower back isn't ideal either. But neck pain and stiffness is a whole other situation.

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Luckily, all you need is 10 minutes to give your stiff trapezius muscles a little release. Whether you wake up with a kink in your neck or feel some stress after a grueling workout, Samuel Chan, physical therapist, recommends giving this quick routine a try.

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1. Neck Circle

1. Neck Circle
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Reps 5
Activity Stretching
  1. Start sitting on a chair or kneeling on the floor.
  2. With your hands crossed on your chest, begin to roll your neck in a clockwise direction.
  3. Push your neck gently to the limits of your comfortable range.
  4. Circle in this direction for five reps, then rotate counterclockwise.

2. Shoulder Roll

2. Shoulder Roll
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Reps 10
Activity Stretching
  1. Start kneeling or seated with your arms at your sides.
  2. Shrug your shoulders up as high as possible toward your ears.
  3. Roll your shoulders forward and down, creating as much space as possible between ears and shoulders.
  4. Pull them down and back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  5. Finish with your shoulders up by your ears again and complete 10 reps.
  6. Repeat all the reps in the opposite direction.

3. Upper Trapezius Stretch

3. Upper Trapezius Stretch
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Sets 3
Time 30 Sec
Activity Stretching
  1. Begin sitting in a chair or kneeling on the floor.
  2. Reach your right hand up over your head and gently grasp the left side of your head.
  3. Carefully apply pressure to bend you neck sideways, stretching into your trapezius muscle.
  4. With each deep breath, gently apply a little more pressure.
  5. Hold here for 30 seconds, release and repeat 3 times total.
  6. Do the same thing on the opposite side.

Tip

Be careful not to pull or tug your neck but apply pressure to the stretch gradually.

Bonus: Upper Trapezius Trigger Point

Bonus: Upper Trapezius Trigger Point
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Reps 10
Activity Stretching
  1. Place a massage ball or lacrosse ball between the top of your shoulder and upper trapezius muscle.
  2. Lean gently into the wall, adding pressure to the muscle.
  3. Hold here for a moment, then release the pressure.
  4. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other side.

Tip

You can also gently roll side to side against the ball to relieve knots and massage more of your trap and shoulder muscles.

Bonus: Upper Trapezius Release With Arm Raise

Bonus: Upper Trapezius Release With Arm Raise
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Samuel Chan
Skill Level All Levels
Reps 20
Activity Stretching
  1. Place a massage ball or lacrosse ball between the top of your shoulder and upper trapezius muscle.
  2. Lean gently into the wall, adding pressure to the muscle.
  3. Lift your arm up and down for 20 reps.
  4. Then, repeat on the opposite side.

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