Getting a Ballet Back, Part 2: Traps for Days
Okay, when you think traps, you think those muscles on top of your shoulders that guys want, or those spots where you hold tension and that get sore when you're anxious. But the trapezius muscle is actually really big, spanning almost your entire back, and it's super important for both dancers and "normal" people. As dancers, our arms spend a lot of time held out to the side, or overhead, or some combination of the two. The upper and lower fibers of the traps will help the serratus anterior to rotate the shoulder blade when the arms are raised over the head. The middle fibers of the traps are mostly involved in retraction of the scapula, and they are often overlooked as important stabilizers, which, combined with weakness of other muscles in the back, can contribute to dysfunction of the shoulder, mainly instability of the shoulder blade. It also contributes to the "chicken wing" look because you're unable to pull the scapula back enough to get them flat on your back.
In order to work the middle traps (and also the infraspinatus, which will help further with general shoulder stability), I've shown you two exercise with a theraband. The first is a band pull-apart with rolled up towels under the elbows. When performing this exercise, one should squeeze the shoulder blades together (without letting the back arch or the rib cage splay out) with the palms facing up. This way will work the middle traps, but have an emphasis on the infraspinatus. The second exercise is similar, but creates a longer lever arm, and also puts more tension on the middle traps, especially when the palms are facing up, as it puts the posterior deltoid at a disadvantage (a good thing in this case). Use these as a warm up or add them to a back workout to burn out your traps!
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