The part covering the upper back can be compared to a thin plate but on top of the shoulder it is a rather thick chunk of muscle. This is the muscle most people instantly grab when they are asked to give a shoulder massage. It is primarily used to move and support the shoulder blade and to raise the shoulder. It will be especially over worked if you carry a heavy back pack, have a bad posture when you work at the computer or hold out the arms in front of you for longer periods of time.
Trapezius is the second most important muscle when it comes to getting rid of symptoms in the head. The most common trapezius symptoms are pain in the:
Back of the head
Behind the eyes
On top of the shoulder
The back between the shoulder blades
Trapezius also contributes to general tiredness or a sensation of having a head filled with cotton / living in jelly. It is also closely related to light sensitivity.
Massage of the trapezius is done with the Backnobber in two basic positions: 1) Standing up and 2) sitting down. You will be looking for sore and tender trigger points which might even radiate upwards to the head and the back of the neck when pressing them. When you find a trigger point you should apply a pressure for about ½ to 1 minute. As with all other trigger points you need to apply enough pressure to get to a pain level of 5 on a scale of 1-10. When you have treated 1 trigger point you should move on the next one. This could be very close – maybe only 5 mm (1/4 inch) away. You can easily have 20-40 individual trigger points scattered all through trapezius. Some experience that all of trapezius is basically one big trigger point. It this is the case try to find and treat the worst ones first.
Massage standing up
In this standing position you hold the backnobber in front of you (you can do this sitting down as well). The big arch on the backnobber is placed on top of your shoulder and the small arch is pressed in against the stomach. The hands rest on top of the big arch to apply pressure downwards onto the top part of the trapezius. On the pictures below you can see how I have applied rubber bands to the backnobber for extra grip. The rubber bands also help in the sitting position.
The first trigger points are found in the very front part of the top of the shoulder rather close to the collar bone – further forward than what you can see on the pictures. You shouldn’t go down in the small dent/depression right above the collarbone – that is to close. If you feel the pain radiation downwards to the arms/back/chest then you have gone to much forward on the shoulder and should go back a bit until you get on top of the trapezius again.
Massage sitting down
The second position is done sitting down in a couch or a chair with a semi-soft back. You place the big arch of the backnobber under your arm so that the knob at the end of the backnobber touches your back. Your back should have contact with the back of the couch/chair. Then when you press down on the small arch of the backnobber in front of you, you will feel a pressure from the backnobber in your back. This position is always done sitting down but for the purpose of illustration I’m showing how the backnobber is positioned on the first of the pictures below.
Using resistance band for extra pressure.
When you have gotten used to the trap massage, you might want to use a resistance band for extra pressure. But be careful not to use it too early as a lot of pressure can give you huge flareups! Use with caution.
Avoid massaging on the thoracic outlet, a bundle of nerves going into the arm. To avoid this:
- Massage on or behind the blue line, not in the depression between the top of the trapezius and your colarbone maked by the red circle.
- Referred pain should NOT go into the arm, but into the head, neck, eyes, jaw, etc. Not the arms!
- Never press harder than "hurting good".
- As you are starting out, start with a very mild pressure the first day. If you feel fine the next you can increase the pressure a bit. Never go "all in" on the first day!