Top 10 Muscle Imbalances And What To Do About Them #8

#8 Upper Trap Dominates Latissimus Dorsi

Take a look around. Do you ever see people with shoulders rounded forward living up in their ears? Nah hardly ever:) Welcome to modern day human cashew posture.

Forward flexion society is the new norm. Hunching over phones and desks for endless hours sets up repetitive motion chaos for the body. Adaptation to the stress response of the modern external environment breeds compensation layers. Think tight muscles, aches, pains, etc.

How often do you see people open up into a power extension posture? Shoulders down and back, walking tall, feeling lean and mean? Probably have to squint. You just might see them and a Unicorn too.

The human cashew posture annihilates thoracic spine extension and the ability to efficiently rotate the torso. Rotation (transverse plane) is highly energy efficient and less costly for the body to generate, absorb, disperse and release force. When you lose it the body doesn’t like it. What force? Gravity! And it’s a relentless bitch. Never stops crushing down on you 24/7.

 

The latissimus dorsi is a primary player in the Posterior Oblique Subsystem of movement and generates force from the backside. If the lat is weak and dominated by the upper trapezius you lose strength and power.

Try this.

Put your feet together so they touch. Keep your shoulder back and down, then twist from left to right. Now shrug your shoulders towards your ears and twist again. Which one felt harder? Lack of thoracic spine mobility kills the shoulder. Decreased rotation means less engagement of the latissimus.

What does the upper trapezius do?

Extends the head and neck. Laterally flex the neck to the same side. Rotate the head and neck to the opposite side. Elevates the scapula. Upwardly rotates the scapula. It’s a busy little sucker! Look how much control this part of the trapezius has over your cranium.

What does the upper trapezius do?

Extends the head and neck. Laterally flex the neck to the same side. Rotate the head and neck to the opposite side. Elevates the scapula. Upwardly rotates the scapula. It’s a busy little sucker! Look how much control this part of the trapezius has over your cranium.

What does the latissimus dorsi do?

Extends the shoulder. Adducts the shoulder. Internally rotates the humerus.

What you can expect when the trap dominates the latissimus!

  • Elbow pain (tendinitis)
  • Shoulder pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Decreased strength and power

What to do about it

  1. Release the upper trapezius with a roller, ball, hand, IASTM (instrument assisted soft tissue manipulation), etc.
  2. Lie on the ground face up. Keep shoulders down and back. Place something under your head if your neck bothers you. Arms by your side elbows bent to 90 degrees. Let your arms rotate in so hands and forearm rest on your body. Squeeze your glutes and hold. Press arms into your body as you press the elbows into the ground at the same time for 4 seconds. Hold 4-seconds and repeat 4 times. You will be internally rotating and extending the arm.

What’s the one big takeaway?

Lats are powerhouse drivers for performance and function. They are often weak which makes your traps work harder. That makes you overall weaker and slower. That’s bad. 🙂

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