Muscle tightness

Why are my Upper Traps always tight?

It is a common complaint

One of the most frequent problems we see in the clinic, is people with tight shoulders. Given the prevalence of desk jobs, many consider tight shoulders just a fact of modern life. However we often find that tight upper traps are rarely the real issue and rather they are a symptom of the body being unhappy.

In particular, we find that tension in the upper traps is often present when there is neural irritation. Nerves should be able to move freely and easily through the body however they can get restricted. Nerves are quite sensitive and may get irritated by a variety of causes including tight neck joints, stress and sickness. When nerve irritation occurs, the brain switches on “protective mode” and creates a wide-ranging response, aimed at avoiding further aggravation. This protective response can include symptoms such as pain, numbness, pins and needles or weakness, as well as muscle tightness and movement restriction.

Why do they get tight?

Upper traps are one of the muscles that is often part of this protective response. Given their role in protecting the nerves, releasing them directly often won’t make lasting changes. It may give some temporary relief although sometimes it can result in an aggravation of symptoms.

So if you releasing the upper traps is not the answer, then what do you do? Treatment should be aimed at working out why the upper traps are tight and treating the underlying cause. By addressing the primary issue, the brain can then switch off (or decrease) the protective response and in turn, then upper traps should start to soften.

If you or someone you know is experiencing tight upper traps or possible nerve irritation, please contact us. We can determine if it is a musculoskeletal issue before having to see a GP. We are open 5 days a week and a couple Saturdays a month. We have early and late appointments available. Please call us at 1300 842 850 or click here to book an appointment.

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