Training Around Trap Injury

Hi guys I sustained a pretty bad strain in my upper trap in Feb. Over ambition with one arm snatches and bad posture was the cause.
I spent a lot of time at the physio at the time of the injury but continued my workouts 4-5 times a week. She said I had muscle imbalances and needed to strengthen my lower traps-rhomboids

I changed my program to include a lot more back work and all my lifts got much better, felt stronger, put on some weight…
I was still getting the odd twinge and continuing with my physio treatments but a couple of weeks ago I thought I was totally over it.

Then I jumped up and did some wide grip pull-ups and got sent straight back to square one. I had been doing them the whole time and thought that body weight chin ups are surely one of the best things I could be doing.

Soooo I’ve been out of the gym totally for a week and then did some legs a couple of days ago and then started upper body today but felt my neck starting to play up so packed it in early.

I’m starting to think that maybe I just need to stay out of the gym totally for a while (I think my physio would agree judging by the way she rolls her eyes at me everytime I walk in the door) but for how long?
If I need to strengthen my middle back how do I do that while avoiding exercises like pull-ups?
Should I just dial back the weight? But whats the point in doing weights if they’re not heavy?

I’ve lost 3kg already and feel weak and hate to think what I’ll feel like after a month or six weeks off.

Any ideas?


Personally, I’d recommend going to any massage spar, get a deep-tissue massage; it helped me relieve some pressure on my rear trap! My pain was from my Upper right trap all the way to my rear-delt, couldn’t turn my head right, without turning my waist slightly.

It was as a result of behind the neck press on a smith-machine, I was neglegent on correct form, blinded by my ego… didn’t feel any pain, until the nest morning (This was 2weeks ago).

As for totally, quitting gym for a while, I don’t think that’s a good idea, as you said -it makes the muscle weaker (and does NOT help recover as fast). I do shoulder-rotators with a DB or Kettlebell, it has helped me to be able to hold a Barbell again (Pressing or Pulling).

just because it spasms during pullups doesnt mean pullups are the cause. Look at what you did that day earlier, even out of the gym.

Often it is weeks even before an actual injury that will lead to an injury, i.e a long car ride with bad posture can tighten neck/back muscles, if not aware of it when you go to lift they may still be overly tight and depending on exercises spasm out.

Asses your total training in and out of the gym.

Thanks for the replies guys. I’ve been back in the gym and haven’t had any real problems over the last week. Still sore and hurts at night but my neck isn’t catching the way it has done. I had a search through here and seems my problem certainly ain’t unique!

I’m putting a lot more emphasis on warming up slowly and throroughly, lots of stretching etc before I get into any weights (I used to just walk into the gym and do push-ups then pull-ups till I felt warmed up then light sets of my main exercises). I found the diesel crew shoulder warm-ups so I’ve been doing that. Also taking a ball into the gym with me to roll out my shoulder in between sets has helped immensely. Actually have never felt quite so sore - the good sore - right between my shoulder blades as after doing a leg workout with the diesel crew warm up exercises in between sets of squats etc.

I’m still sort of struggling with what my problem is and how to go about fixing it so would appreciate it if any of you would care to critique my line of thinking.

So steps leading to initial injury
1 Bad kyphotic posture to start with
2 Bad programming with too much emphasis on pushing exercises exacerbated upper-cross syndrome
3 As the weights increased my upper traps would be taking the majority of the strain further strengthening them and worsening the imbalance.
4 One day I picked up a dumbell and tried to press it over head and due to my poor technique and over active upper trap the ineveitable happened and I strained a tendon or something.

Since then I’ve
1 Receieved a lot of physiotherapy
2 Found this website and completely overhauled my work outs focusing on all things back.
3 Significantly increased 1 rep maxes and gotten much stronger due to this better programming
4 Raised my computer monitor at work
5 My posture is noticably better according to my Mrs
6 Jumped up and over done some pull-ups while cold and flared up the injury. I don’t know if I understand this properly or not but its probable that even on an exercise like pull ups that bad technique and muscle imbalances can mean that my upper trap is taking over the exercise and over working it?

Lessons and moving foward
1 Realise that my back is still fragile even if it’s feeling ok and that a moment of stipidity could send me back to square one again.
2 Spend more time warming up even before body weight exercises
3 I do not need to be working to failure on every single set I do no matter how much I love it nor do I need to be using as much weight as I can move
4 Modify work outs to focus on one or two heavy main lifts per workout and then spend the rest of the time with very light weight working on all things shoulders with an emphasis on mobility and training my body to uase the right muscles rather than just upper traps.
At this stage the plan is to have four workouts with two main lifts that I’ll spend half my time on and continue to try and get the weights up 1 Power cleans and RDLs 2 Bench and military press 3 Squats and lunges 4 Dead lift and bent over rows.
Amongst these main lifts I’ll do lots of mobility type exercises, pull-downs, seated cable rows, cable pull-aparts, db rows, t bar rows…

What do you think? Right track?

all sounds good to me. And just be aware of your body all day long…