The Trapezius Muscle: A Pain in the Neck?

For weeks, I’ve been suffering from what I thought was a very bad crick in the neck. Daily tasks such as bending, standing, sitting or climbing stairs became arduous and irritating. I finally couldn’t stand the pain any longer and decided to go see my doctor.

As it turned out, my trapezius muscle had shortened, tightening up in my back almost like a charlie horse. The trapezius muscle extends from the base of the neck down the back, beneath the shoulder blade, and out toward the shoulder/arm area. It is named for its trapezium-like shape. Pain experienced in this muscle may reverberate further down into other locations of the body. The trapezius muscle is one of the larger muscles found in the human body.

My doctor informed me that spasms in this muscle can be triggered by stress, tension, poor ergonomics, lack of exercise, or maintaining a sedentary position for extended periods of time. Her explanation and diagnosis made perfect sense to me, as I had recently taken my freelance consulting business full-time and had been sitting in front of the computer for a solid ten to twelve hours a day. She also mentioned that this muscle is very sensitive to emotions like worry, anxiety or frustration; so I’m sure that also played a part in my trapezius muscle locking up.

When I arrived at home, I immediately reviewed my office space for potential improvements to its layout. I realized that my monitor was slightly off to one side, while my keyboard was at the center of the desk. I adjusted this so the monitor would be directly in front of me, aligned with the keyboard, and my head would not be turned at an angle. My eyes were now level with the top of the monitor and that felt better.

My posture while seated had been slouched; therefore I neededÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½improved back support and a comfortable upright position. My feet should have been flat on the floor with knees straight and shoulders back. I placed a small pillow in the small of my back which immediately offered some relief. I also raised my chair a bit higherÃ?¯Ã?¿Ã?½helping my legs to easily fall into the right placement.Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½ You would think that these minor changes should have been common sense to begin with, but it’s easy to forget the simple things when you’re acutely focused on obtaining and cranking out some work.

My doctor encouraged me to get up from the PC every hour, for at least five or ten minutes, to walk, stretch, go outside, get some fresh air and keep my body moving. Working the muscles regularly is important to keep them loose, flexible and experiencing good circulation. She also said to drink lots of water, especially during the Summer months, to keep hydrated and help flush out body toxins.

Overall, I’d say this experience-though painful as it has been-is an opportunity for me to reconnect with the amazing nature of how our bodies function day after day. Just like a streamlined business, they work very hard to keep things running smoothly, yet make it seem so easy.

My continued treatment requires that I attend physical therapy twice a week until improvement is apparent. I also need to do home exercises daily, and hopefully with a bit of TLC, things will return to normal soon.

I hope that this article encourages you to take better care of yourself, pay attention to your work environment, exercise, and eat right to keep your body functioning well.�¯�¿�½ Also, remember to relaxâ�¦ your trapezius muscle, and other body parts, will definitely thank you for it!

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