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The trapezius muscle in a cadaver dissection
2 Credits

Trapezius Muscles

Integrated functional anatomy of the trapezius/trap muscles. Attachments, nerves, palpation, joint actions, arthrokinematics, fascia, triggerpoints, and behavior in postural dysfunction. Examples of common activation exercises, stretches, foam rolling, subsystems, and strength exercises for the trapezius/traps.

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Course Description: Trapezius Muscles

This course describes the anatomy and integrated function of the trapezius muscles. The trapezius muscles are also known as the traps, trap muscles, shoulder blade muscles, upper back muscles, and/or are referred to individually as the upper trapezius (upper trap), middle trapezius (mid trap), and lower trapezius (lower trap). This muscle is the most superficial muscle of the upper back and is composed of more type I muscle fibers; however, the percentage of type I and type II muscle fibers are close to even. This muscle crosses the scapulothoracic joint, influencing motion of the sternoclavicular joint and acromioclavicular joint. The upper trapezius is an elevator, upward rotator, and anterior tipper of the scapula, the middle trapezius is a retractor and downward rotator of the scapula, and the lower trapezius is a depressor, upward rotator, and posterior tipper of the scapula. Additionally, the upper trapezius is innervated by the accessory nerve (along with the sternocleidomastoid) and plays an important role in stability and motion of the neck (cervical spine). This course also describes the role of the trapezius muscles in scapulothoracic arthrokinematics, fascial integration (thoracolumbar fascia), postural dysfunction, and subsystem integration. Sports medicine professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, etc.) must be aware of the trapezius muscles for the detailed analysis of human movement, and the development of sophisticated exercise programs and therapeutic (rehabilitation) interventions. Further, this course is essential knowledge for future courses discussing injury prevention and physical rehabilitation (e.g. neck pain, thoracic pain, AC and SC joint pain, trapezius muscle pain and trigger points, cervicogenic headache, thoracic outlet syndrome, accessory nerve dysfunction, trapezius muscle strain, scapular winging), synergistic function and motor control (e.g. trapezius muscle and rotator cuff muscle recruitment during arm elevation), and trapezius exercises and techniques for enhancing sports performance (e.g. upper body (arm) stability, strength, power, hypertrophy, etc.).

Brookbush Institute’s most recommended techniques for the Trapezius Muscles (see videos below):

The trapezius muscle in a cadaver dissection
Caption: The trapezius muscle in a cadaver dissection

Introduction to the Trapezius Muscles

3 sub-categories

Trapezius Muscle Actions

1 sub-category

Fascial Integration

Postural Dysfunction and the Trapezius Muscles

Exercises and Techniques for Trapezius Muscles:

7 sub-categories


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1. Introduction

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