Tight traps

  1. Tight traps


    I have tight but weak traps. Every time I work delts it seems my traps also get sore. How do I isolate my delts?

    Also if I try to strengthen my traps they will hurt a lot and it doesn't feel like a muscle soreness, my neck hurts and sometimes I get headaches. Could I have cervical disk problems?


  2. Are you making sure to engage your serratus while doing flies? Also make sure you have good posture during the day. Keep your elbows close to your ribcage, especially if you work on a computer all day. Most likely it is a postural problem that you can solve by analyzing your biomechanics and solving the issue.
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  3. Tight upper traps? Might be stemming from tight pecs/bad posture, especially if you have a desk job (as mentioned above). Check the balance of your workouts (shoot for at least a 1:1 pulling: pressing ratio, and if you do a lot of desk work, shoot for a 2:1 pulling: pressing ratio). And also make sure you're engaging your back (especially middle and lower traps, as well as lats) when doing pull exercises and not letting your arms take over (pulling with protracted or upwardly rotated scapulas), which will not only not help your current issue but also eventually cause rotator cuff problems. If your pecs are tight, you can stretch them/roll them with a lacrosse ball too, though I'd do any stretching after your workout, not before.

    Neck pain during back workouts makes me wonder if deep neck flexors are weak. Which would go hand in hand with bad posture/tight upper traps/tight pecs. The normal rehab exercise for those are chin tucks, but sometimes normal rehab protocols don't work right for trained populations because it's not that the muscles are super weak, but just get overpowered by stronger muscle groups. Do chin tucks in case they are really weak for some reason (look them up on YouTube), but I would primarily focus on the middle and lower traps with pulling exercises, making sure the scapulas are downwardly rotated and retracted, and the problem may resolve on its own.
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  4. Quote Originally Posted by VO2Maxima View Post
    Tight upper traps? Might be stemming from tight pecs/bad posture, especially if you have a desk job (as mentioned above). Check the balance of your workouts (shoot for at least a 1:1 pulling: pressing ratio, and if you do a lot of desk work, shoot for a 2:1 pulling: pressing ratio). And also make sure you're engaging your back (especially middle and lower traps, as well as lats) when doing pull exercises and not letting your arms take over (pulling with protracted or upwardly rotated scapulas), which will not only not help your current issue but also eventually cause rotator cuff problems. If your pecs are tight, you can stretch them/roll them with a lacrosse ball too, though I'd do any stretching after your workout, not before.

    Neck pain during back workouts makes me wonder if deep neck flexors are weak. Which would go hand in hand with bad posture/tight upper traps/tight pecs. The normal rehab exercise for those are chin tucks, but sometimes normal rehab protocols don't work right for trained populations because it's not that the muscles are super weak, but just get overpowered by stronger muscle groups. Do chin tucks in case they are really weak for some reason (look them up on YouTube), but I would primarily focus on the middle and lower traps with pulling exercises, making sure the scapulas are downwardly rotated and retracted, and the problem may resolve on its own.
    Very solid advice!

  5. Some people are super trap-dominant when it comes to shoulder training (laterals specifically).

    Training in the mirror is a simple/obvious thing you can do to monitor which muscles you're calling to do the work - if you see the traps kicking in too much focus on relaxing the shoulders/neck. One of the major things I see people doing wrong that will definitely get the traps to jump in is using too much weight. I've got some pretty damn impressive shoulders and I typically use the same dumbells as the high school kids when it comes to laterals lol.

    I sympathize with you on this - I broke my collar bone and tore some musculature in my neck in a NASTY hockey injury. To this day, when I do direct Trap work I get rough migraines. That being said, my traps are plenty big just doing basic barbell work like heavy rows/deadlifts etc.

    Tips to Eliminate Traps from Laterals:
    1) Lighten the load and focus on squeezing the delts.

    2) Go 1 Arm at a time on laterals so you can focus on the form. You can optionally use the "off hand" to push on the delts slightly which can help you squeeze.

    3) Try to avoid DB laterals and switch to cables for a bit. Set the pulley to about knee height, this makes the exercise more of a natural "arch" motion when it comes to resistance - it pulls the weight down AND into the body. DB's work with gravity, obviously, so the resistance isn't as "natural" as using the cable.

    4) If you are using DBs, sit sideways on an incline bench and do them that way. This too pulls the weight in more of a natural arch

    5) The obvious - look at the mirror and ensure the traps are relatively relaxed.
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  6. Quote Originally Posted by hazard12 View Post
    Are you making sure to engage your serratus while doing flies? Also make sure you have good posture during the day. Keep your elbows close to your ribcage, especially if you work on a computer all day. Most likely it is a postural problem that you can solve by analyzing your biomechanics and solving the issue.
    To engage my serratus, wouldn't I have to bring my shoulders forward like at the top of a over extended push-up? I try to keep my shoulders back and sometimes engage my lats which seems to work by disengaging my upper traps but shoulders still crack.
    I do have a posture problem (rounded shoulders and forward head) which I'm trying to fix but very hard. I've had it my whole life. When I was 130 lbs and no muscle and now that I'm 180 lbs and have a lot more muscle haha. Actually my posture is the reason I started exercising, I just did all the wrong things haha.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by VO2Maxima View Post
    Tight upper traps? Might be stemming from tight pecs/bad posture, especially if you have a desk job (as mentioned above). Check the balance of your workouts (shoot for at least a 1:1 pulling: pressing ratio, and if you do a lot of desk work, shoot for a 2:1 pulling: pressing ratio). And also make sure you're engaging your back (especially middle and lower traps, as well as lats) when doing pull exercises and not letting your arms take over (pulling with protracted or upwardly rotated scapulas), which will not only not help your current issue but also eventually cause rotator cuff problems. If your pecs are tight, you can stretch them/roll them with a lacrosse ball too, though I'd do any stretching after your workout, not before.

    Neck pain during back workouts makes me wonder if deep neck flexors are weak. Which would go hand in hand with bad posture/tight upper traps/tight pecs. The normal rehab exercise for those are chin tucks, but sometimes normal rehab protocols don't work right for trained populations because it's not that the muscles are super weak, but just get overpowered by stronger muscle groups. Do chin tucks in case they are really weak for some reason (look them up on YouTube), but I would primarily focus on the middle and lower traps with pulling exercises, making sure the scapulas are downwardly rotated and retracted, and the problem may resolve on its own.
    Sorry I should have specified that I was talking about my upper traps. I pretty much shoot for 10:1 pullingressing because I did only pressing when younger and I think messed up my shoulders now they hurt most of the time I press. But even though I pull so much, I still have rounded shoulders and forward head. I have been doing a lot of targeting of my lower traps also to fix my rounded shoulders but hasn't been working too well.
    I will definitely start doing chin tucks though. I didn't even think of the neck flexors, thank you!
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