Is Traps a Trap? (Round Shoulder/Neck Pain) | Train it or not?

Last video, we have mentioned the stress and training, causes tightness of some muscles.  One of them is Trapezius muscle (Traps).  Traps is a large muscle group at the back.  Classified as Upper/ Middle/ Lower Traps.

  • Upper Traps: Shoulder Elevation (Shrug).
  • Middle Traps: Shoulder Retraction (Squeeze the back).
  • Lower Traps: Shoulder Depression (Shoulder down).


We often refer the upper Traps when we say Traps.  That is the muscle sit aside your neck.  When they are tight, your shoulder will be shrugged, making Rounded back.


Why is it so tight all the time?


Reasons of Tight Traps

There are couple reasons:

#1 Great secondary muscle.

It assists majority of the exercises, no matter pushing/pulling.  Performing many exercises require shoulder depression.  Because if not, your upper traps will involve a lot more.  Push Ups, Dips, or Pulling exercises like Rows, upper traps have a lot of involvement.


Particularly, shoulder exercises like Lateral Raises, Upper Traps are bound to assist.  If you don’t intentionally depress your shoulder,  Traps will take over and reduce the stimulation for your target muscles.  So, we often say Chest out, Tight Abs, Shoulder Down.  The Shoulder Down is depress your shoulder so as to reduce the involvement of upper Traps.


#2 Life

Apart from training, our daily life will have many opportunities to shrug without particular intentions.  Common one is that:

  • When it is cold, you will automatically shrug your shoulder, activating Upper Traps.
  • Sitting and use Laptops/Phone will shrug your shoulder easily.
  • Or when we are nervous, stressed out, the upper traps will shrug as well.  There are the basic instincts of human.


If you are living under stress for long period of time.  Chances are the Upper Traps is constantly tightening.  As no proper care is taken of, Like no intentions to depress your shoulder, nor stretching.  As a result, the Upper Traps will become more tight over time.  Then, the most relaxed state is still a tightened state.  Your shoulder will naturally shrug.  Look like Rounded Shoulder/Back.  When you are that tight,  Your friends/family will tell you to relax your shoulder/body.  But you are in fact already doing it.  It is true that you are relaxing.  But your most relaxed state is no longer a “real” relaxed state. which means, simply relax or depress your shoulder won’t help that much.  So what should we do?




Stretching is what we should do.  The Stretching is not referring to those 5-10min stretching after workout.  It is a particular routine (15-30 min) apart from working out to stretch the tightened muscles.  The Stretching Ex for Upper Traps is shown right now:  Depress your shoulder.  Turn your head aside and use other hand to press down.  At least 30s/set.  Do both sides.


You can also rotate your head a bit to stretch the muscle in the neck.  Both stretching ex should be done regularly.  No matter after workout, or other free time.


Develop Middle/Lower Traps

Additionally, Middle/Lower Traps should be strengthening.  Do some shoulder retraction & depression exercises.  You may refer to the previous Back video.


Reasons to Train Upper Traps

Some may wonder:  “If I don’t have this tightening problem, should I particularly train Upper Traps?”  I don’t think so for most people.

Unless for some reasons:

  1. You are a Bodybuilder. You have to train every muscle to their limit. Then you may train Traps intentionally.
  2. You have particularly weak Upper Traps. Weak like you don’t have this muscle. Then you should train it intentionally.
  3. Some exercises need a strong upper Traps (Like Handstand).  Strengthening the upper traps will benefit the exercise. Then you should train it intentionally.


If you aren’t the above,  then no Upper Traps training is required.  Because it already involves in many exercises.  Even if you don’t train it intentionally, it still get developed.


To conclude, no Upper Traps training is needed.  Since most people have a tightness issue instead, if you also have, please stretch regularly.  Always check your shoulder whether it is shrugged.  Maintain a relaxed mind/mood.  Don’t let yourself fall into a trap of a tight Traps.

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