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Remedial Massage Melbourne
Scalene and Trapezius Muscle Tension

Where Are the Scalene and Upper Trapezius Muscles?

Upper Traps Stretch

We commonly treat muscular tension and dysfunction in the upper thoracic, neck and shoulder area. The Scalene and Upper Trapezius muscles are located either side, and behind the neck, respectively. The Trapezius system is a complex muscle group comprising three sections: Upper; Middle and Lower Trapezius muscles. Collectively, the Trapezius muscles extend from the base of the skull (occipital band), extending in a diamond shape through to the mid-thoracic (upper back) and fanning out, attaching to the scapula (shoulder blade).

The Scalene muscles comprise three pairs of muscle groups: Anterior (front); Middle and Posterior (behind). The Scalene muscles are located either side of the neck, behind the Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles; concerned with turning movements of the neck and head.

What are their functions?

The Upper Trapezius muscles are primarily responsible for supporting the weight of the arms, and also connect the neck to the skull. As such, they also support movement and stabilization of the neck and head. The Mid-Trapezius muscles support the scapula (shoulder). The primary functions of the Middle Trapezius muscles include supporting the arms, by assisting in rotating and lifting the scapula; e.g. when reaching the arms to the side or overhead. An example of the Upper and Middle Trapezius muscles in use, includes shrugging the shoulders, or reaching to pick-up up something with your hand.

The primary functions of the Scalene muscles include supporting the respiratory system (breathing) by assisting to elevate the ribs, in conjunction with the SCM muscles. The Scalene muscles also support the neck, and consequently, actions requiring bending and tilting movements of the neck.

What tension related problems can occur here?

Muscular tension commonly treated at Entegra Health Parkville, associated with the Scalene and Upper Trapezius neck muscles, includes tension headaches and migraines. This is often due postural compensation patterns (prolonged sitting or desk based), and/or weak muscles experiencing fatigue from prolonged periods of use, over-use or immobility. Referral pain is often experienced in associated with the attachments of the Upper Trapezius muscles located at the base of the skull; and the Scalene attachments at the cervical spine (vertebrae of the neck).

Muscular tension surrounding the spinous processes of the neck can contribute to nerve related conditions, including Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS). Common symptoms that may be attributed to TOS can include: tingling and/or numbness in the hands or fingers, reduced range of movement and/or frozen shoulder conditions, due to nerve impingement by surrounding shoulder structures. These conditions may also reduce circulation within the arms, hands and fingers.

How Can I Reduce Muscular Tension in These Areas? | Upper Traps Stretch

At Entegra Health Parkville, we recommend a variety of treatment options to assist in the effective reduction of muscular tension. In conjunction with regular Remedial Massage therapy, stretches are often advised to lengthen the back and sides of the neck, and between the shoulder blades to assist in the reduction of tension in the Upper Trapezius and Scalene muscles. For example, ear to shoulder stretches and shoulder roll stretches. Foam rolling of the upper thoracic area may also significantly reduce tension and therefore provide muscular relief in the Upper Trapezius muscles.


For further information regarding Remedial Massage or treatment options, please contact us via email. Access to free online stretch and exercise video resources can also be found on our website.
Entegra Health
Upper Traps Stretch
Massage Melbourne