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The trapezius and deltoid muscles both provide support to the shoulder joint. Both muscles also attach to the shoulder blade. Tightness in these muscles can lead to upper back and neck pain and, if left untreated, muscular strain. If you feel upper back tension, stretch daily to ward off injury.
Upper Trapezius Stretch
When your upper trapezius gets tight, your neck can get sore and stiff. Start by sitting up tall and looking straight ahead. Tilt your head to the right, allowing your right ear to drop toward your right shoulder. Keep your left shoulder relaxed down -- you should be feeling a stretch in the left side of your neck. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side, lowering your left ear toward your left shoulder. This stretch can be repeated two to three times a day.
To stretch the back side of your upper trapezius, look over your right shoulder, then nod your chin down. You should feel a gentle stretch in the back of your neck, toward the left side. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side.
Posterior Deltoid Stretch
Bringing your arm across the front of your body stretches the posterior deltoid -- the back of your shoulder -- and the middle trapezius between your shoulder blades. Draw your right arm across the front of your body, holding onto it with your left arm. Be sure that your right shoulder is relaxed away from your ear. Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat this stretch on the other side.
Middle Trapezius Stretch
In this stretch, you will release the muscle fibers lying between your shoulder blades. Start by sitting in a chair with armrests. Cross your arms in front of you, holding on to opposite armrests. Round forward through your ribcage, tucking your chin to your chest. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed away from your ears. Hold this position for 30 seconds, taking your breath wide into the back of your ribcage. To get out of the stretch, use your hands to assist you to sit back up.
Anterior Deltoid Stretch
If you work at a desk, your anterior deltoids -- the front part of your shoulder -- are likely tight. This stretch will also release tight chest muscles. Stand in a doorway, about arm's length away from the wall. Keeping your right arm straight but not locking your elbow, place your right palm on the edge of the doorframe, just below shoulder height. Take a small step forward, so that your arm is just behind the plane of your body; you'll feel a stretch in the front of your right shoulder. Hold this position for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side. This stretch helps prevent the rounded-forward posture from long hours of office work.