It's been a long day at work and you find your shoulders aching yet again. Strange, you've gotten massage after massage but your shoulders just seem to tighten up again a few hours later. Maybe you just give up and accept the daily ache.
There's good news! You can easily provide relief to your upper trapezius muscles! Not by massaging your shoulders, as you might initially think, but rather, by loosening up your pectoral muscles. It may seem odd, but the pecs are the number one bully to your tight upper traps. In our modern technology based society, we are constantly hunched over the phone and the keyboard, which leads to... you guessed it, tight chest muscles. As your pecs shorten with the daily hunching, they pull your shoulders forward, causing a rounding, kyphotic posture, i.e., mini hunchback. This hunchback posture shortens your trapezius and neck muscles which makes them chronically tight and weak at the same time. It also increases the risk of shoulder injuries. Most masseuses stay away from massaging chest muscles, for obvious reasons, which is why your shoulders tighten up again after a massage, however delicious it might have been.
So how do you open up your pec muscles? Thankfully, there are a few methods. My personal favorite (although the most "painful") is to roll out the pecs with tennis balls or lacrosse balls. The easiest way to do this is against a wall -- place the ball between the wall and your pec muscles (general position is right under your collarbone, close to your shoulder joint, but NOT on the joint), then press into the ball and swim your arm up and down in a snow angel motion.
Stretching also helps, but may not provide as much instant relief. Here's a link to a some effective stretches: http://www.livestrong.com/article/136325-stretches-pectoral-muscles/
As for prevention, the best thing to do is reverse the hunching at least once an hour, by standing up and stretching or just moving your shoulders around and back, maybe even adding some standing twists. Also, YOGA is awesome for opening up the chest (I'm biased of course).
Say hello to your new relaxed shoulders!