Search

Y-W-T-I: What's that spell? Strong Traps!

Your trapezius muscle...the big diamond like muscle that start from the nape of your neck all the way down to the middle of your back. What do your traps do? Depends which section you're talking about!


Upper Traps: Elevates your shoulder blades + Rotate & Tilts your neck


Mid Traps: Bring your shoulder blades back + Stabilizes shoulder blades during arm movement


Lower Traps: Brings your shoulder blades downwards


As you can see, your trapezius muscles span from your neck to shoulders, and almost half your back! Even though the trapezius is a strong muscle, it is also highly used in everyday activities, thus being susceptible to pain and discomfort. Causes of pain can include:

  • Overuse: Repetitive stress such as lifting heavy objects, or sports such as swimming.

  • Poor Posture: Long hours in front of a computer screen, reading a book, studying or doing homework can lead to tight traps

  • Stress: Those who are stressed tend to tense up, causing tension on their traps

  • Trauma: Injuries such as whiplash or direct trauma can lead to pain in the traps


How do we build strong trapezius muscles?

Building strong trapezius muscles don't require a trip to the gym! Strengthening your traps is as easy as Y-W-T-I! Y-W-T-Is are exercises you can do to help strengthen and condition different parts of your trapezius muscles to reduce and prevent discomfort, as well as strengthening your scapular stabilizers. Check these exercises out and try them at home or as a warm-up in the gym!




Y :

  1. Lie face down (on a towel or exercise ball) with elbows straight and arms our in front of your body like a letter 'Y'

  2. Squeezing the shoulder blades together, slowly raise your arms upward. Thumbs should be pointed upwards at all times

  3. Return back to starting position and repeat. Do not shrug shoulders during exercise.



W :

  1. Lie face down (on a towel or exercise ball) with your elbows bent and arms in a W shape.

  2. Slowly raise your arms upward as you squeeze your shoulder blades

  3. Your palms should be directed downward the entire time. Do not shrug your shoulders.

  4. Return back to starting position. 3 sets, 10 reps


T :

  1. Lie face down (on a towel or exercise ball) with your elbows straight and arms in a T shape.

  2. Slowly raise your arms upward and squeeze your shoulder blades

  3. Thumbs should be pointed upwards the entire time. Return to original position slowly & repeat. 3 sets, 10 reps



I :

  1. Lie face down (on a towel or exercise ball) with your elbows straight and arms in an I shape by your side.

  2. Slowly raise your arms upward and squeeze your shoulder blades

  3. Return to original position slowly & repeat. 3 sets, 10 reps





Y-W-T-L...What's that spell...Strong Traps! Try these exercises out to strengthen your trapezius muscles. These postural exercises will aid in stabilizing your posterior capsule and help decrease discomfort during your everyday activities. Or perform these exercises as a great warm up for your thoracic and mid-back before your gym session!




Lilian Chang

University of Ottawa (B.HK.)

Post-Graduate, Humber College


79 views0 comments