Base-Line Healing logo. Stick figure with arms outstretched above shoulder height, legs apart. Rainbow of colours up midline. Red at pelvic floor Base then a line of orange, yellow, green blue extending to the head. Showing the body aligned and balanced, the natural way to treat fibromyalgia. Use your body better slogan.

Healing Technique:

3. Connect Your Base-Line To Your Upper Body.

The trapezius muscles connect the head and arms to Base-Line support, and are responsible for alignment of the upper body.

human skeleton, off-center view from the back showing the trapezius muscles from back of the head to mid-back, extending out towards each shoulder. Together, the trapezius muscles form a diamond-shaped sheet of muscle. The lower point midline on the spine level with the lowest ribs. Extending upwards and outwards to the shoulders. Then up and in, towards the head, curving up the neck. Also showing the baseline muscles: the rectus abdominis muscles at the front of the abdomen and the pelvic floor muscles spanning the pelvic canal.

Anatomy, keeping it simple...

Your Trapezius Muscles.


The left and right trapezius muscles form the superficial muscle layer of upper back and back of the neck. They extend from mid-back to the back of the skull, curving down the neck and extending out towards each shoulder.

the trapezius muscles, connecting the base-line muscles to the head and arms.  Trapezius muscles in an outline of the upper body showing the base of the skull and shoulder blades. A blanket of muscle over the upper back and back of the neck. Thin, sculpted muscles that should be free to extend in all directions supporting the head and arms through a full range of movement.

The whole of both trapezius muscles should be free move, without tension or restriction, guiding the head and arms through a full range of natural movement. Like a blanket of muscle, that should be smooth and wrinkle-free.

full range of natural movement

The trapezius muscles attach (via connective tissue) to several bony structures:

  • The base of the skull.
  • The scapulae (shoulder blades).
  • The clavicles (collar bones).
  • The vertebrae of the upper spine (cervical and thoracic, from the head to the lowest ribs).

Trapezius Attachments To The Base Of The Skull.

Feel for the midline bump on the back of your head, and then move your fingers towards your ears to feel for the ridge where the trapezius muscles attach to the skull.

The midline bump is known as the external occipital protuberance, one of our 5 midline markers for alignment.

external occipital protuberance

Image of the back of the skull with the attachment areas of the trapezii marked. The external occipital protuberance is located midline with a ridge of bone either side. Linear attachments, almost horizontal, with a slight curve, at the back of the head so the trapezius muscles drop down like a curtain from the back of the skull.

Trapezius Attachments To The Spine.

2 images. Back view and off-center view from the back. Showing the skull and vertebrae of the spine with the right trapezius muscle also shown. The nuchal ligament in the neck, which continues as the supraspinous ligament to the sacrum can be seen on the body's midline. It is via these ligaments that the trapezius muscles attach midline to the back of the vertebrae/bones of the spine. The nuchal ligament is a leaf-shaped structure in the back of the neck, a sheet of connective tissue between the cervical vertebrae and the trapezius muscles. The supraspinous ligament is a cord of tissue along the back of the spine to which the trapezius muscles attach.

The left and right trapezius muscles meet midline, attaching to the spine via the nuchal ligament in the back of the neck, and the supraspinous ligament, from the base of the neck and down the back.

nuchal & supraspinous ligaments

The upper body is aligned when the midline anatomy the trapezius muscles attach to - the nuchal and supraspinous ligaments, can align with the linea alba, creating the median plane.

Trapezius Attachments To The Shoulder Blades and Collar Bones.

Feel for all the bony bits where the trapezius attaches near the shoulder:

  • A pencil-like bone at the front (the collar bone/clavicle). The trapezius attaches to the section nearest the shoulder.
  • Lumps of bone at the shoulder and a ridge of bone at the back (parts of the shoulder blade/scapula).
view from behind of the bones of the upper body, Showing the right trapezius in-situ.  The left trapezius is not shown but where it attaches to the scapula and clavicle are marked. The clavicle, or collar bone, is a pencil shaped bone at the front.  The trapezius attaches to the third closest to the shoulder. The scapula, or shoulder blade, is an odd-shaped bone, a flattish triangle with a ridge on the back surface known as the spine of the scapula, and several knobbly bits, for want of a better description sorry,  at the end nearest the shoulder joint. The trapezius muscles attach to spine of the scapula and the acromion (one of the knobbly bits) Palpate the structures around your shoulder

The Trapezius: A Muscle Of Three Parts (per side).

the left and right trapezius muscles seen from the back. Each muscle can be divided into three areas: The lower trapezius muscles originate from the spine level with the lowest ribs, extending upwards and outwards towards the shoulders. The lower trapezius is triangle shaped, pointed at the base. The middle trapezius fibres run from midline towards the shoulders, strips of muscle tissue almost horizontal across the top of the upper back. The upper trapezius muscles from shoulders to base of the skull, almost like triangles again but the attachment to the skull is a line rather than coming to a point. The whole of both trapezii form a kite-shape. with the cross of the frame consisting of the nuchal and supraspinous ligaments midline up the middle and the middle trapezius the horizontal bars. There is an ellipse of connective tissue between shoulder blades, in the middle where the trapezius muscles meet. Connective tissue connects the upper trapezius to the skull and connective tissue attaches the muscles to the clavicle and scapula.

The direction of the muscle fibres creates 3 sections in each trapezius: the lower, middle and upper trapezius.

Between the middle trapezius sections, that lie over the shoulder blades, there is a diamond/ellipse-shaped sheet of connective tissue.

trapezius in detail

Movement Of The Trapezius.

Movement of the upper body should begin from the lower trapezii (plural), with the whole of each muscle becoming active, spreading up and outwards, to the head and arms.

Think extension and expansion. Like wings spreading wide.

Figure from behind showing the trapezius muscles and arrows extending upwards from the lowest point of the muscles. Movement of the upper body should start from the lower trapezius, extending upwards and outwards. The scapula bones are the start of the arms, extending from midline of the back.

The fibres of the middle trapezius should be fully extendable - from midline to the shoulders, with the shoulder blades well positioned, and able to move freely.

view from the back of the trapezius muscles, highlighting the middle trapezius extending horizontally from midline to the shoulders.

Technique Tips - Upper Body To Base-Line.

Look at the pictures, feel for the bony attachments and appreciate the shape and extent of your trapezius muscles.

view of the upper body front off center. Showing the trapezius muscles and selected bones. The cervical vertebrae are not shown, allowing the nuchal ligament in the back of the neck to be seen. The left and right trapezius muscles merge with the nuchal ligament and these muscles are key to feeling the relative position of the nuchal ligament and its state of alignment. The left and right clavicle and scapula are shown, the trapezii attaching towards the shoulder.

The potential for movement in the upper body is great, but this area can also carry a lot of physical restrictions, resulting in reduced range of movement, imbalance, tensions and pain.

physical restrictions

Ask yourself:

  • What connection do you have to your trapezius muscles?
  • Can you activate your lower trapezius muscles, beginning from their lowest point, midback, imagining a triangle-shape muscle on either side of midline?
  • Can you move and lift your shoulder blades - by pushing your shoulders up from underneath, and not pulling them up from above?
  • Can you extend your arms out wide, including your shoulder blades in the movement?
  • Can you lift your arms up above your head? Feeling full extension without pain or tension?
  • Are your shoulders free to move and rotate, forward and backward?
  • Can you let your shoulders drop, feeling fully relaxed in your neck?
  • Can you let your head relax forwards, and to each side with your ears reaching your shoulders? Fully, equally, without tension?
  • Does your upper body feel balanced, or are you noticing tensions and restrictions?
the left trapezius muscle seen from the side showing the curves of the muscle, sculpted down the back of the neck and extending forwards to attach to the collar bones. The trapezius muscles are thin, like a blanket of muscle over the upper back and neck that should be smooth and wrinkle free, able to extend in all directions to guide the upper body, head and arms, through a full range on natural movement. Also showing the midline supraspinous ligament that extends down the spine from the bottom of the trapezius.

The upper body needs to be supported by your Base-Line muscles to achieve a full range of movement. Pelvic floor Base, rectus abdominis Line.

two images, back and off-side views showing the trapezius muscles aligning the upper body to Base-Line support.  The pelvic floor and rectus abdominis muscles are shown. The midline linea alba, between left and right rectus abdominis is also shown.  From the back view it can be seen to align with the connective tissues where the trapezius muscles meet midline

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