Your Trapezius – Key to Shoulder Health/Posture

Often in training sessions, clients will hear cues such as shoulder pinch, shoulders down. There is a good reason for our coaching cues.

We are constantly seeking good scapular positioning which is paramount to preserving shoulder stability, function and overall health.

One of the muscles that plays a large role in scapular positioning is the trapezius. The trapezius muscle is a large muscle that extends down from the occipital bone at the base of the skull to the lower thoracic vertebrae and extends laterally to the shoulder blade.


The chief action of the trapezius muscle is to support the shoulders and limbs. The trapezius has three areas that have separate functions. The upper trapezius fibers support the weights of the arm. The middle trapezius fibers retract (or pull back) the scapulae. The lower region rotates and depresses (or pulls down) the scapulae.

trap 2

The middle fibers are best worked by rowing movements and face pulls. The lower trapezius is best worked by pulling the shoulder blades down while keep the arms straight. Wall slides are a great drill that teaches the scapular to stay retractred and depressed and lessen the domiance of the upper trap.

face pulls

stiff arm pulls

iwall slides

cable row 2

The trapezius muscles are important for shoulder stability and function. Any altered scapular muscle function, weakness or inability to position the scapular and stabilize results in a direct effect on the shoulder joint. Some issues that may arise from poor scapular positioning is shoulder instability, impingement, rotator cuff tendonitis, rotator cuff tears, etc.

So, when in the gym think scapula – shoulders back and down into your hip pockets. This will engage the trapezius and help the maintain overall shoulder health as well as improving overall posture. Stand tall, retract the shoulder blades and drop – you will be amazed how much better you feel and others will sense much more confident you.

Till next time,

Push Ups, Face Pulls and Shrugs…for Strong and Healthy Shoulders
Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson

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