Added on April 28, 2017
Most people go to the gym to train the big sexy beach muscles, but you're doing yourself a disservice if you aren't training the lower trapezius muscle. I can guarantee that the biggest, strongest, and baddest looking guy at the gym will crumble if I were to test the strength of their lower trapezius muscle. The lower trap is not the sexiest muscle but it is an integral muscle for the function of the shoulder.
Let's first talk about where it is in the body. The lower trapezius is located just below the upper trapezius, that one muscle that is always tense and has knots galore. The lower trapezius is connected to the thoracic spine and the spine of the scapula. This forgotten muscle has three important jobs for the proper functioning of the scapula. It helps with upward rotation of the scapula which is necessary to reach for things above your head. It also helps to depress and adduct the scapula. Proper scapula motion is integral for shoulder mobility.
When forgetting to train the lower trap, it can lead to muscle imbalance problems. The muscle imbalance in the upper extremity usually entails short and tight pec minor muscle and long and weak lower trap muscle. Over time if you leave the muscle balance untreated, you may develop shoulder pain and poor posture.
However, there's still hope. You can fix the muscle imbalance and get back to optimal health with these simple exercises. The first thing we can all do is to be more aware of your posture. Secondly, we should work to stretch tight chest muscles. Lastly, we should work to strengthen our weak lower trap muscle.
Next time you're at the gym try these:
These are just a few initial exercises to get the ball rolling. Once you have established motor control of the lower trap muscle, you can work to begin strengthening the muscle. Working on your lower trap muscle will help you to prevent injury in the future as well as give you a more effective movement pattern in the shoulder. As a bonus you'll have the sexiest lower trap muscles this summer.
Stephen Hanano, SPT