[Shoulder Tune Up Part 1]

You know that spot at the top of your shoulder that is constantly filled with tension and in KNEAD of a massage?

The trapezius is large muscle of the upper back that runs from the base of the skull (the occiput), to the spine of the scapula and lateral most 1/3 of the clavicle, to the 12th thoracic vertebrae (at the very bottom of your rib cage). The upper fibers of the trapezius run in a diagonal direction from the base of your skull to your clavicle and scapula. Anytime your shoulders sneak up towards your ears on that stressful phone call, you pin your cell phone between your ear and shoulder, or find yourself carrying a heavy bag or purse over one shoulder, the upper most fibers of the trapezius will very loudly let you know.

The upper trapezius also has a habit of becoming a helper muscle – and attempting to compensate or assist almost every other muscle of your upper body, leaving it overworked, exhausted and quite unhappy!

Thankfully, there is a super easy Trapezius Tension Tamer that you can do at a wall. The wall is a great option if you are in a place where you can’t get down on the floor (at work or in an airport) or if the floor is too intense.

Grab a pair of any size of Roll Model Therapy Ball, head to the wall and check out the video below with Jill Miller on how to tame the tension of your upper trapezius!

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Monika Bansal

Oh i am always tight at this spot and guess need to roll almost everyday. I’ve carried some heavy shopping bags in the past and so doing it repeatedly have made my upper traps really vulnerable to even slight load. Guess i need to work on this regularly. Thank you Jill for sharing all this. Its great work !


“The upper trapezius also has a habit of becoming a helper muscle – and attempting to compensate or assist almost every other muscle of your upper body, leaving it overworked, exhausted and quite unhappy!” I couldn’t agree with this quote more! I often find that my trapezius is over compensating for other muscles. Then, I have great pain in my neck and horrible headaches. Once the muscles that aren’t engaged are forced to work, they are incredibly weak. I have been working a lot on trying to get my trapezius to release and relax so I can get the other… Read more »

Katrina LK

A good friend of mine recently went to the ER because he thought he was having a heart attack. In his early 30s, that sounds super scary, right? It turns out it wasn’t his heart after all, but a tight, miserable, overworked trapezius trigger point that was referring pain down his arm! I’m definitely going to send this to him. Thanks YTU!

Gustavo Torres Santiago

Another great continuation from the neck and shoulders. Recovering from several left side pinched nerves this exercise method will definitely be a proactive method on hopefully not incurring this injury again.

Marie-Michelle Darveau

Great. Always good to go back to how explaining the trapezius massage. People are always so tight in this area


Yes! I do believe everyone I know could use this tamer, including myself! Great video with the addition of showing the ball roll from the back. Very informative

Catherine RL

Like many others have said. Thank you for the informative blog and the demonstration. Going to be sharing this with my clients who drive and type all day.

Tracy Wagner

Great demonstration, this is my biggest problem, all my stress is held in my shoulders, I’ll be adding this to my to do list everyday. Thank you!


Like the many others who have commented on this post. I love that you showed us exactly where the ball placement should be. It is also a great reminder for me to start doing it every morning because my left side is always tense and I have a lot of pain almost everyday. I just love the balls for all of my areas of pain.

Thanks so much,


Amanda Shepherd

I appreciate the view through the glass to really showcase ball placement. Thank you :).

Steven Custodio

Rolling the trapezius at the wall makes it accessible pretty much anywhere, like that the office for instance. I also enjoy rolling it using a corner of a wall where I can actually push the ball in. Another variation that I recently discovered is on the floor, lying on my back, block vertically at the wall and this allows either rolling left and right or slightly up and down.


This is my favorite ball exercise and is super easy. I roll my traps every morning. Thanks for the anatomical input as well as the mixed media (both blog and vlog) post.

Michelle Jordahl

This is great so many people have tension in the upper back and to be able to do it on a wall anywhere is a great idea. I will take Yoga Tun Up balls with me to the airport. What a great relief for the stress trapped in those muscles . Thanks for the great information

Alicia Lowe-Downes

These two moves will definitely save me from having to beg my husband to message my traps which are constantly tight and he can never message me long enough. Also good to pin the balls in this area when driving.


This is where I keep all my stress. This is hands down my favourite muscle to roll!

Sarah Atkinson

I Lovethe balls for so many reasons. One of them is they saved my $1000 on massage on my Trapezius alone. I am so excited that one small investment into the balls and maybe 1-5 min a day saves me so much money in massage. My husband also is in love with using them. Often we lay on the floor together and do this one. I love the comprehensive video of the glass viewing. The fact that there is so many video resources is the main reason I recommend the balls to clients .

Rebecca Tamm

I love having this one in my toolbox as it’s so effective and something that my clients are easily able to remember to do on their own at home.

Katiana Paré

What a great video, informative, detailed, and to the point. I like how you gave two rolling methods in that area and added how the distance you stand from the wall is another factor that changes this roll method.

Pascale hazledine

Yes I agree with the comment on seeing the placement of the balls through the glass.the fact that the tension in the upper trapezius affects our breathing
Is something I had not considered I just rolled there to get rid of the the pain.now I have another reason to do it and to teach it.


What a great spot light on a muscle that too many of us need to focus on. In today’s society many of us spend too much time at our desks at work, on a computer or spending too much time looking down on our phones helping the trapezius remain over worked and exhausted. A great tool is provided in the video to help anyone carrying extra tension or stress in this area!


This was an amazing exercise for me as my traps have caused endless problems – I hold a lot of tension there. I have had shoulder pain, headaches, neck pain – not much fun. The video was great to help ensure you got the balls in the correct position. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if they are in the right place for yourself! I plan to take this exercise to the office!

Petia Botcheva

The balls work miracles in this area. It is such a great idea to do it against wall during your work brake .

Petia Botcheva

The balls work miracles in this area. Its very convenient to do it against wall if you are at work.

Tracey Arnold

As much as I’m conscious of my posture when I have to sit at the computer, the tension still creeps in, especially on my left side. Before I tried this TTT roll, the tension would build up. Now I take a break and roll it out before the layers of tension get too deep.
The TTT has become a daily ritual.


this is part of my daily nightly routine standing against the wall. I have previously been using lacrosse balls, but tonight I got to use my brand new yoga tune up balls that were so much more forgiving on my body.


Such a great releave for muscles tension

Ilene Pellecchia

After 5 hours of driving in New York City with my shouders touching my ears and Yoga Tune Up TT homework ? this article and ball rolling sequence was perfect. Just what I needed. Glad I have this DVD for the full sequence. Thank you!

Marie-Pierre Gauthier

J’aime beaucoup relaxer mes trapèzes sur les balles Yoga Tune Up!
Un bien être immédiat surtout après beaucoup de temps passé à l’ordinateur!


the balls have completely helped me in this area


This is great for temporary relief, but ultimately, you don’t want to just plow through your traps, as that doesn’t really fix the problem.

Think Buckminster Fuller’s Tensegrity Model: Trapezius is usually tight due to poor posture or an imbalance somewhere else, often at the base of the shoulderblade around rib 6/7, or the upper thoracic paraspinal muscles due to forward head posture (AKA “Text Neck”). If you want to fix the problem longterm, those (and their opposing muscles) are the places to treat.

Scott McKee

This video is perfect: quick, detailed and specific. And I really appreciate you offering advice for situations when getting down on the floor isn’t an option. Getting more ball rolling into my daily routine is my goal, and having short, convenient, practical options is critical to making that happen. Thanks!

Elaine Cheong

I love the trapezius tamer move. It covers a big area quickly and reminds me to come back to my breath without using my trapezius to breath.


This is a cronic problem that I have when I sit too long. I loved the demo of the balls moving up and down, back and forth to give me a better idea as to where to place them and the movement that I should make. I’m sitting right now with it very tight and have one of the balls placed at the rhomboid that seems to help a little. When I can get to a wall, I’ll hit the upper traps.

Lena Rogers

Love the idea of self-care and self-massage for the trapezius muscle and the tension that most people seem to have in the shoulder. I will use this myself and advise my clients to do the same! Thanks.


Just when I thought my shoulder position for some yoga poses was just right, I discovered I was at a slight lift of the shoulders, even at rest. The therapy balls helped my traps to rest and perform more efficiently.


Thanks for the reminder that the upper trapezius muscle functions as a helper in a lot of upper body activities. This is a must daily rolling body part especially for moms!


J’ai bien aimé la démonstration au mur , et facile à faire. effectivement il y a moins de pression qu’au sol. UTile de voir la position des balles sur le haut des épaules .

Janine Watson

Good video, espeially with showing exactly where the YTU balls go. my traps are always so tight.


Wow ! Thanks for including the video. Hopefully these techniques will really help me work on this area. I ALWAYS have tightness there!


C’est un exercice extraordinaire que je pratique personnellement depuis 2 ans et qui donne du soulagement instantané à de nombreux élèves , spécialement ceux qui souffrent d’anxiété.

Donna Burch

Love this. This is my main area of tightness and the first youtube video I watched when I
got my therapy balls. Yay!

Bo Visavakul

This is a great video that I will definitely use on myself more often and also share with my clients. A majority of my clients come see me with very tense trapezius muscles from working in a lab or sitting at a desk all day!

Jennifer Strumfeld

I love rolling out my upper trapezius on the floor. This is a great alternative when I need to down regulate after a stressful lessons with a group of energetic middle schoolers. This variation at the wall is much more accessible (and realistic) in a public setting. Yeah to balls on the back and creative approaches!


Rolling the trapezius muscles is something almost everyone could benefit from. This video is great for just about everybody.

Karen Stillman

Great ideas and video and for a location to do the work. Thanks for the quickie!


I found this exercise on the floor to be really painful. So yesterday I tried this on the wall but didn’t realize that the distance from the wall would affect the pressure on the traps. Thanks for the tip.


I could spend a full hour just rolling out my upper traps, and I often hear the same from clients. So much tension! So grateful for this simple strategy to release it. Thanks!


Love the description of the upper trapezius as “helper”! I’m sharing this all my clients, as everyone can benefit from a little extra self care there….in fact I’m off to do it now. Thanks Jill!

Claudia Muehlenweg

I am right handed and can often feel pain emanating from the tension in my right Trapezius. This is a great and simple way to get the myofascial tissues back to their intended length. And I love how i can do it at the wall when not being able to roll on the floor.


I love being able to see the balls in action against the clear glass. It really helps in knowing if I have the balls in the right position.