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What is the trapezius muscle?

Rick Olderman
Physical Therapy
The trapezius is a large muscle group of the shoulder, neck, and upper back. The trapezius muscle is important to shoulder (and therefore neck) function and is divided into three zones:
  • upper: originates at the base of the skull and down a thick ligament connecting to the spine. It inserts into the clavicle and acromion of the scapula. This portion elevates the scapula during arm movements, stabilizes the scapula during adduction, and assists with rotation.
  • mid: originates from thoracic vertebrae 1 to 5 and inserts into the acromion and spine of the scapula. This portion adducts and stabilizes during scapular rotation.
  • lower: originates from thoracic vertebrae 6 to 12 and inserts into the spine of the scapula. This portion depresses and rotates the scapula.
Fixing You: Neck Pain & Headaches: Self-Treatment for healing Neck pain and headaches due to Bulging Disks, Degenerative Disks, and other diagnoses.

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Fixing You: Neck Pain & Headaches: Self-Treatment for healing Neck pain and headaches due to Bulging Disks, Degenerative Disks, and other diagnoses.

There are two major muscles connecting the shoulder blade to the head and neck. Because the shoulder system isn't working well, continual stress is placed on the head and neck creating...
The trapezius muscle is a large flat muscle on the upper back and neck The upper trapezius attaches the back of the head to the point of the shoulder. The middle trapezius attaches to the neck and upper spine and the shoulder blade. The lower trapezius attaches to the spine in the mid-back and to the shoulder blade.

The trapezius muscle is responsible for shoulder shrugs and pinching the shoulder blades together. (This answer provided for NATA by the University of Montana Athletic Training Education Program.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.