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The upper trapezius…not as important as you think.

March 13, 2012

In this video taken from a recent F.A.P. ‘Spine’ seminar, Dr. Spina discusses the fallacies regarding the anatomic understanding, palpation technique, and function of the ‘upper trapezius’ muscle.  The discussion is supported by the work of Johnson, Bogduk, et al (Referenced below) and is summarized by W. Hammer (click here to read summary).

Johnson G, Bogduk N, Nowitzke A, House D. Anatomy and actions of the trapezius muscle. Clin Biomech 1994:44-50

Cadaveric specimen demonstrating the thin structure of the upper trapezius

In this study, the authors bring to light the actual function of the upper trapezius utilizing cadaveric dissection noting the fibre direction, and lines of pull of the tissue.  The results shed light on the glaring misconceptions regarding this structure.  This is NOT to say that the portion of the muscle is un-important clinically as fibrosis often adheres it to the underlying structures…it only implies that a different understanding of it is necessary.


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