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How To Reduce Overactive Traps

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When you train extremely hard, being sore is a sign that you’ve had a good workout. That means you worked hard and maybe you hit a personal best. But what happens when you’re too sore in one area? What happens when the pain doesn’t subside and it starts affecting other areas? This situation is very prominent in a lot of Crossfit athletes, specifically their trap muscles. I have experienced it myself which has resulted neck pain and not being able to even turn my head. So here are a few causes and remedies.


Underdeveloped Lats: Lats don’t only help you with pulling strength, but also in helping with posture. They help pull your shoulders back and down, helping turn off the trap muscles. Overused trap muscles lead to tightness and pain.

Poor overhead movement: If you are doing movements with weight overhead and not doing them properly, this will lead to a lot of stress on the trap muscles, causing tightness and pain.


Strengthen Lats: Use accessory movements such as lat pull downs and wide grip barbell rows to help develop lat strength. This will help posture, help not to use your traps during pulling movements and reduce how much the traps are being used. The two exercises are demonstrated below.

Left: Starting Position / Right: Finishing Position

Left: Starting Position / Right: Finishing Position

Improving overhead movements: When performing overhead movements such as the snatch or jerk, think about lats not traps. Do not shrug while having the weight overhead. Relax your shoulders down while still pressing into the bar.


Left: Incorrect – Elevated Traps / Right: Correct – Depressed Traps

Improve Neck Posture: When your neck and head are hitched far forward, this causes strain on the traps and neck muscles. Tuck your chin and bring your head as far back as possible to help fix this. Try to implement this in your everyday life to improve your posture.

Left: Starting Position / Right: Finishing Position

Stretching traps and neck muscles: Stretching the painful areas will help reduce the tension and relax the muscles more.

Left: Starting Position / Right: Finishing Position

I hope this helps and happy lifting!

Ryan Hayward – CFL1