T Nation

Upper Traps/Neck Hypertrophy and Sleep Apnea?


#1

Hi. I browsed a few old threads and wanted your input.

I’m wondering if upper traps hypertrophy could induce sleep apnea, impar blood circulation or even make sleeping uncomfortable (be it side or back sleeping). Maybe postural deficiencies could further this, or prevent optimal blood flow/breathing ?
Also I feel like lateral neck work , “sides of neck” would be less concerning but still a possible cause of sleep apnea.


#2

It’s difficult to envision a means by which hypertrophy of the traps could be a contributing factor to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or “impaired blood circulation” (not sure what you mean by that). As for the scalene muscles, I could envision a way significant overdevelopment could impair subclavian blood flow (this is called thoracic outlet syndrome).

FWIW, a PubMed search yielded no studies relating hypertrophy of the neck musculature to OSA.


#3

Tight traps can definetly mess with your alignment and make sleeping uncomfortable.

If your back/neck is all kinked up, resulting in bad posture, I could totally see it causing you to snore. I don’t know if that’s the exact definition of sleep apnea, but what does it matter? When I kink the hose on my Shop Vac, it doesn’t suck right. If your chin is jammed into your chest and your shoulders are rounded forward, your lungs won’t suck right.

Don’t be afraid to stretch or roll or mobilize, or do whatever you need to do to loosen your neck up.

resistance-band-stretch

Trap-Stretch_edit2


#4

Thanks for the replies. But there are quite a few studies correlating neck size and osa. Maybe fat is the culprit ?


#5

Indeed it is. Obesity is a strong risk factor for OSA. One less-than-obvious place obese individuals store fat is in the soft tissue of the pharynx. This narrows the pharynx, and when they fall asleep (and hence lose pharyngeal muscle tone) their pharynx closes (ie, the sides touch), cutting off their airstream. In contrast, it’s not at all clear (to me) how well-developed traps, scalene muscles, SCMs, etc, could cause a similar collapse of the pharynx.

I would say neck size in BBers/weightlifters as a risk factor for OSA is misleading in the same sense that BMI is a misleading indicator of body composition in BBers.

All that said, it should be noted that certain aspects of weightlifting can put an individual at risk for OSA. For example, a ‘full house’ weightlifter may be carrying significant amounts of BF, some of which may be stored in their pharynx. Further, we know that TRT seems to exacerbate OSA, so it stands to reason that excessively high T levels in a younger individual (ie, juicing) might do the same.