Trapezius Swelling & Swimming

Swimming can provide aerobic exercise and conditioning without putting strain on the trapezius muscles.
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A lot of things can put strain on the trapezius muscles, leading to painful swelling. Examples are mundane things like poor posture, a heavy purse or backpack, or an ill-fitting bra. A swollen trapezius can cause a lot of problems, including headaches, dizziness and back pain. It can limit your range of motion, and generally make life miserable. It might seem counterintuitive, but gentle, low-impact exercise, such as swimming, can actually reduce swelling by improving circulation and reducing inflammation.

Trapezius Muscles

The trapezius muscles are a kite-shaped muscle group that extends from the base of the skull to the middle of the back and covers the neck and upper back. The trapezius is responsible for supporting the shoulders and arms and makes it possible to raise your arms higher than your shoulders. Each trapezius muscle, one on the right and one on the left, is divided into the upper trapezius, middle trapezius and lower trapezius. An injury to these muscles can cause different symptoms depending on where in the trapezius the injury is located. Regardless of which part of the trapezius is injured, one symptom that remains consistent is pain.


Swimming is a low-impact exercise that, if done correctly, avoids putting further strain on the trapezius muscles and can reduce swelling and inflammation. Varying your strokes will avoid putting added stress on these muscles, and you should avoid strokes that involve turning your head to one side.


Stretching prior to a swimming workout can also reduce further strain on the trapezius by increasing flexibility. Stretching the trapezius muscles is a good way to ease pain or discomfort, as well. Exercise caution when dealing with an injured trapezius, especially in the neck region, and don't stretch the muscle so much that it causes pain, which could lead to further injury. It's easy to overdo it without realizing it, so be careful.

Pain Relief

When you're in pain, it can be hard to make yourself move no matter how much you know that exercise will be good for you. For more immediate pain relief, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce inflammation and swelling in the muscles and make it easier to get yourself into the pool. In addition to the stretching mentioned above, acupressure and gentle massage can also help, and so can a heating pad or a soak in a hot tub.

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