Relieve Shoulder Pain and Tension with This Simple PNF Stretch

What is a PNF stretch—and why does it help?

A PNF stretch, or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, is a stretching technique that involves alternating cycles of muscle contraction and relaxation to improve flexibility and promote muscle relaxation or release. Performing a trap-centric PNF stretch daily can soften tension and ease aches and pains in the shoulders. This type of stretch works by combining muscle activation and subsequent relaxation, which reduces tightness and promotes a deeper stretch. Massage therapist Rachel Pantano recommends this stretch for anyone experiencing upper trap tightness or chronic neck and shoulder pain.

How to perform the PNF stretch for your traps

Hold a dumbbell or weight in your hand on the affected side and shrug your weighted shoulder toward your ear for 10 seconds to activate the upper trapezius. Relax and return the shoulder to a neutral position. Lean your head to the opposite shoulder to feel a stretch on the affected side. Perform two to three repetitions on each side, gradually increasing the number of sets as your body adapts. Listen to your body and avoid overstretching to prevent further pain.


Rebecca Norris. (July 18, 2023). If Your Shoulders Are Super Tight and Painful, This Simple Move From a Massage Therapist Can Help Relieve Tension ASAP.

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