Are you experiencing:
- any aching/pulling in the tops of your shoulders
- any tightness/soreness in the space between your shoulder blades
- difficulty in sitting up straight because it causes pain in your upper back
- tension and limited range of motion in your neck
- occipital headaches (start at the back of your head, then creep forward to the front of your head/behind your eyes)
- teeth grinding or jaw clenching
Do you familiarize with any of these activities?
- spending the majority of your day sitting at a desk
- hunching over your computer to type
- slouching or excessive forward leans when reading or writing
- rounded shoulders or tense, raised shoulders towards your ears on a frequent basis
If you agreed with several of the descriptions above, you could likely be suffering from tension of the trapezius muscle; an extremely common muscle issue that plagues a very high percentage of our society. Trapezius muscle tension often arises from leaning too far forward while working, incorrect posture, typing at a computer all day and habitually engaging incorrect muscle groups.
Here are a few things that you can do to reduce the generalized tension and any muscle knots that may also be present along your trapezius muscles to lessen pain, dispel headaches, eliminate a clenched jaw and over time, correct your posture:
Acupuncture works to reduce tension in the trapezius muscles in numerous ways. In most cases, we utilize sliding cupping in order to loosen the muscles by gently stretching the muscle fibers. When there is tension, this means that the muscles have tightened and shortened, so in stretching the muscle fibers we are then able to relax the tension in the muscles.
Depending upon the severity of the tension, we may also incorporate some needling to further relax the muscles and eliminate any knots that might be present. Needles work to de-stress the entire area and when inserted into a tight knot, the needle works to effectively “de-flate” that knot in order to reduce the pulling sensation on the muscle.
Another method that is often used is application of the electro-machine, which we attach to the needles. This electro-machine sends a gentle vibration down through the needles into the muscle, creating a sort of internal massage. This stimulation allows us to get below the skin’s surface and into the belly of the muscle, where much of the pain begins.
If the tension in the trapezius muscles is very chronic and severe and does not respond to the above treatment, we then enlist what’s called IMS (intra-muscular-stimulation). You could consider this technique the “big-guns approach” to acupuncture treatment. After sliding cupping, we then insert the needles into the muscle and physically manipulate the needles into specific motor points and knotted areas to get these stubborn muscles to finally release. IMS works wonders for those with chronic pain or where nothing else has worked.
While acupuncture is a fantastic means of treatment, it is important to enlist the help of other forms of therapy to get you on the road to recovery.
Massage is an excellent complimentary therapy to use in conjunction alongside acupuncture. Anything that you can do to further relax these muscles will be of great help to you.
Exercises to strengthen the rhomboid muscles, the lower trapezius, the latisimus dorsi muscles, the erectors and the para-spinals are very important in correcting posture and taking the pressure off the upper trapezius muscles. Incorporating exercises like rows and isometrics will teach your body how to engage and utilize muscles in your back that have most likely weakened considerably. As you gain more strength and flexibility in these muscles, they will effectively pull your body back and your trapezius muscles back and down, correcting your posture and reducing the constant aching sensation that you once felt in your upper body.
Although we can easily become used to dealing with chronic pain, there is absolutely NO REASON to have to go on living with it. With a little time and a little patience, this issue can be corrected and resolved, allowing you to live your life without tension and without pain. Now wouldn’t that be nice!