Look at the pictures and you will see how clever the shape of the trapezius is. It’s diamond shaped for a reason. It bring together the spine, shoulder girdle and cranium. That’s a smart and daring design which holds these relationships in biotensegrity. The shoulders are a major juggling act that need support ~ shoulder blades that float in muscle, shoulder joints that are spectacularly flexible and a whole upper limb configuration that hinges literally off the small sternoclavicular joint. You can see why the body needs the trapezius. And needs one that is functional.
Unfortunately most of us have a challenged trapezius largely due to stress and poor posture. It’s commonly one of the most strained muscles in the body and rather than linking and biotensegrating, it pulls and distorts. You know how painful and sore your shoulders can get. Ask any bodyworker and they will say this is one of the most ropey muscles in the body. So getting massaged here is blissful and hugely relieving. However back it comes and irritatingly it’s back to how it was in a short time. Obviously lots of this is to do with lifestyle and internal response but lots of it is to do with habituation. Physiologically this means engrained neuromuscular patterns, poor fluid interchange and disengagement from biodynamic forces. The trapezius is in bits not in a whole relationship with itself. Joining the trapezius back together is one of the best things you can do for yourself. And you can do this all on your own. Here’s how….use body awareness and let the natural forces of health create a whole trapezius.
- Bring your awareness to the top of the neck around the occipital ridge. This is a major anchor for the muscle which is in two halves joined through the tendinous spine. Let your awareness be delicate and lively. Allow it to rest across the ridge ~ differentiating with your awareness will bring a new perspective to the trapezius. So lets get into some detail. Find where the muscle attaches through your felt sense then find where the fascia of the trapezius attaches. It’s slightly superior along the nuchal line. Once you have felt both you can sense how the muscle and how the fascia feel independent of each other. Once you have the muscle it’s all about striation and blood. Distinct delineated striation patterns fanning off to the clavicle and spine of the shoulder blades. With the fascia it’s about a sheet like quality that brings you into the whole surround of fascia of the trapezius. Depending how chronically held the muscle is, it will give you a sense of more of the whole. See how useful connective tissue is? Its very nature makes you want to connect up to greater frameworks and more whole relationships that interconnect. Now let’s get a sense of left and right trapezius from the ridge. How does that feel? Are they different? Yes. They always are, no one is perfectly symmetrical. And notice where they join at the spine, feel the way both halves of the diamond come together at the spine. Now feel how the trapezius brings tension to the spine. Does one half bring more than another? and if so what does that do to the spine?
- Lets’ change perspective. This time let’s tune into the trapezius in its attachment to the shoulder blade and clavicle. Lets’ go through the same process of exploring with our awareness the feeling of attachment and structure as the trapezius meets the lateral third of the collar bone. If you follow it laterally you will feel it sweep across the acromium and into the spine of the blade. There’s a different feeling of tensegrity here. See if you can feel the cranium and the spine from these vantage points. Its like looking into the trapezius and the core of the body more from the perspective of the arms. It’s often a perspective we don’t have as we are so often drawn to the neck and cranial base. The perspective is relieving just by itself. So stay with it for a while and see what arises.
- Another perspective. Come into your ribcage and into the lower thoracic spine. the anchor of the trapezius is at the very bottom of the spine in the chest – T12. Let your awareness rest lightly here and feel upwards into a sense of the whole trapezius as a V shape that brings all the thoracic vertebrae into relationship. This is an area of the body we are not so aware of. It’s hidden in the sensorium. What’s interesting is to move with your awareness towards this anatomical perception. Walking and sitting becoming quite different experiences that makes you think how many other experiences there must be in the body that we commonly don’t relate to. It makes you feel like there is a perceptive profile that we operate through. The brain has preferences for certain perspectives around structure and function that take us to a perspective habit. When you walk around like this for a while you start to feel like your trapezius is holding your spine together. You might also notice that there is a strengthening and improved function from doing this. It made me think how much i walk from the front of me and not at all from behind. When you walk from behind you become more more centred into the spine and more detached from what is going on in the outside world i.e. in front of you. It’s as if you have shifted back into your space. It can feel like your whole spine is stablized by the trapezius.
- And another – relating to the trapezius as blood and nervous flows. Muscles need a strong supply of blood as they require lots of energy for contracting. So the trapezius has a rich blood supply coming from the vascular system along with sensory and motor nerve flows. Feel the blood move through your trapezius by tuning into your heart and aorta. You can feel it as a river of liquid potency running through the muscles. This is a great way to connect with potency and bring about reorganization in the muscle fibers. Try and it see. Similarly tune into your spinal chord and follow the somatic nerves through the muscle. This is fluid electric potency that will also create adjustments.
- You can take these felt sense exercises into any muscle in the body and bring about deep shifts towards healthier homeostasis.