Trapezius muscle anatomy


The trapezius muscle is a large bundle of muscles that runs from the back of the head and neck to the shoulder. It consists of three parts:

  1. Upper trapezoid
  2. Medium trapezoid
  3. Lower trapezoid

Traps, commonly called traps, are responsible for pulling the shoulders up, as in a shrug, and for pulling the shoulders back when the scapula is pulled.


As mentioned above, the trapezius muscle is divided into 3 regions: upper fibers, middle fibers (called middle traps), and lower fibers (called lower traps) . muscles are functionality. In other words, each area does something different.

The upper trapezoid arises from the occipital bone at the back of the skull and from the neckline at the back of the head. The muscle is also attached to the spinous processes from the first to sixth level of the cervix through the nuchal ligament. The unions of the inferior fibers of the trapezius arise from the spinous processes from the seventh cervical level to the thoracic 12.

The muscle fibers of the triangular traps move and insert into the spine of the scapula and the acromion of the scapula. They also attach to the outer third of the clavicle or clavicle.

The nerve innervation of the trapezius muscle is interesting, since it is served by the cranial nerve . This nerve, called the accessory spinal nerve or cranial nerve XI, exits the brain stem and travels from the skull to the trapezius muscle, providing movement.

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The trapezius muscle acts as a posture stabilizer and as a movement muscle .

Common actions you may recognize that involve the trapezoid include shrugging, squatting, twisting and extending the neck, and grasping the shoulder blades behind the back.

Upper trapezoid

The upper trapezoid, the part that goes over the shoulders, can lift or lift the shoulder girdle. It also helps to stretch, tilt, and turn the neck, causing the head to tilt to one side and twist. The rotation function moves the head in the opposite direction, in relation to which this neck and shoulder muscle is located.

While lifting your shoulders is an official action of the upper trapezius muscle, it is not always a good thing. If you work at a desk or your job involves a lot of driving, you probably know it first hand.

The constant and chronic upward pull of the shoulder girdle leads to displacement , due to which the upper traps become chronically tight. The result can be pain, limitation of movement, and loss of flexibility in the neck.

Along with the lower trapezoid, the upper trapezoid also helps to rotate the scapula upward. This movement occurs when you lift your arm to the side while keeping your shoulders, neck, and upper back in good position and flexing your muscles.

Medium trapezoid

The middle trapezoid helps draw the shoulder blades towards the spine. Again, if you sit at a desk or drive all day, this can be a useful technique to prevent or control excessive kyphotic posture in this area. The middle trapezoid also helps stabilize the shoulder with certain arm movements.

Lower trapezoid

And finally, the lower trapezius muscle performs a stabilizing action on the upper and middle parts of the spine, lowering the shoulder girdle. This action is the opposite of the action of the upper trapezoid.

The trapezius is an accessory respiratory muscle . This means that it helps to open up a small space for breathing in the upper chest.

But instead of relying on this muscle to support breathing, think about building the capacity of the most basic and powerful respiratory muscle, the diaphragm.

Related conditions

Trapezius muscle problems are rare but can occur. Any damage to the spinal accessory nerve (cranial nerve XI) can cause weakness or paralysis of the trapezius muscle.

This will make it difficult for you to shrug or raise your hand properly. Your shoulder can also sag on one side.

Muscle cramps and pain can also affect cheating. For all but the most vigilant, living and working in the 21st century can cause severe movement deficits. While this has its advantages, you must be aware of the disadvantages.

First, muscles that are inactive for most of the day are more likely to spasm and injure themselves. And the trapezius muscles can be exactly the muscles that do it. You can see for yourself by a simple observation.

Ask yourself

  • How well can I move my shoulders up and especially down?
  • Do I have pain or discomfort in my upper shoulder or both?

If your shoulder movement is restricted and / or there is pain in this area, one or both of the upper trapezius muscles may spasm. Fortunately, there are solutions that are mostly non-medical and easy to implement.


The dense muscles of the upper trapezius often respond well to massage. And since they are positioned so that you can reach yours, you can try the self-massage method.

The upper trapezius muscle, along with other shoulder muscles such as the infraspinatus, tends to be fertile ground for the development of painful myofascial trigger points. However, a massage therapist with myofascial relaxation skills can help you.

Additionally, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation suggests that dry acupuncture, a form of acupuncture, may also help relieve pain and associated trigger point symptoms .

Get the word of drug information

Trapezius exercises can help you do your job correctly. For the traps to work properly, you can do things like shoulder shrugs and scapula stabilization exercises . It is recommended that you check with your doctor or physical therapist before beginning trapezius exercises.

Frequently asked questions

  • Yes, basic exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and shrugs strengthen the trapezius. You can also do self-massage techniques to relax your trapezius muscle if it feels tight. Make sure you are familiar with the correct technique to perform any exercise.

  • When the trapezius muscle is overstretched, it is called a trapezius muscle stretch. In some cases, the muscle can tear. Most minor tears and deformities heal with time and rest, but if the tear is severe, surgery may be necessary for the muscle to heal effectively.

  • Innervation is the supply of a nerve to a part of the body. In the case of the trapezius muscle, it is innervated by the spinal accessory nerve or the cranial nerve XI. This nerve runs from the skull to the trapezius muscle and controls the movement of the muscle.

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