The main function of the trapezius muscle is to elevate and upwardly rotate the scapula. Being that it originates on the back of the skull, or the external occipital protuberance, as well as the spinous processes of the middle segment of the spine, and attaches all the way out to both spines of the scapula, it is evident that this muscle covers a lot more space than we give it credit for. Therefore, a strong trapezius muscle could help prevent an athlete from sustaining a slew of injuries, namely a “stinger”, or an injury to the nerves of the neck and shoulder.

This burning or stinging feeling that most often affects football players can leave them feeling less than their best for a very long period of time. However, it does not necessarily mean that they need to sit out or stop working their trap muscle. Quite the opposite actually.

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Shoulder shrugs have been a timeless exercise used throughout the years and they have been highly effective in strengthening the trapezius and helping lower the rate of injuries to the neck and shoulders. In most cases, the exercise can still be performed while the athlete is experiencing the symptoms of a “stinger” because that burning feeling typically subsides quickly and we must spend our time wisely by getting to the root of the problem, which is how that injury occurred. A “stinger” typically happens after acute impact like an improper tackle in a contact sport that causes a sudden twisting motion of the neck. Yet if the muscles that insert and attach around the areas of the neck, shoulders and back are stronger, there is a greater chance of bracing that sudden impact and avoiding the annoying injury altogether.

Ted Rath, Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Miami Dolphins used the Maryland Belles Nike basketball team to demonstrate the wide variety of options that can be used when performing shoulder shrugs. Using the Rogers Head and Neck machine, the Pit Shark Row and Pull and plain old dumbbells as a few examples, he passionately explains that there should ever be any limitations standing in the way of getting those shrug exercises in.

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