Do you feel like you suffer from a "stiff neck" on occasion?
Do you find it difficult to turn your head to one side or the other?
Shrug your shoulders, go on, you do it often enough.
That action that you just performed used your trapezius muscles, but it also used todays muscle which is the Levator Scapula.
The Levator Scapula gets its name from the Latin: Levare, to lift and Scapulae, Shoulder blades.
The Levator Scapula muscle functions in the following way:
Origin: C1 to C4 (Transverse Processes)
Insertion: Medial border of the Scapula, from superior angle to the root of the spine of the Scapula.
Action: Elevation -Raises the Scapula, Downward rotation of the Scapula or rotates and side-bends the head
Agonists: Upper fibers of the Trapezius
Antagonists: Sternocleidomastoid, Scalenes
The most common thing that causes injury to the Levator Scapula is carrying around heavy bags on our shoulders. That means no one is safe from potential pain in this region. School children with their heavy books, Ladies with their handbags, Men with their toolbags, our laptop bags, gym bags, shopping bags, each of these can place a heavy weight on the Levator Scapula causing it to become over stretched and painful.
The most likely area of pain is that curve between your neck and your shoulder, the spot where you probably cradle your phone.
Specific neck massage can be used to relieve pain in this area, as well as trigger point work to ease headaches and neck and shoulder pain which can result from injuries to this muscle.
Long strokes are used to warm the tissue and deep friction can be used to break down scar tissue, often some stretching exercises will be recommended to help with the healing and strengthening process.
A warm compress can be used at home for pain relief between sessions, and a tennis ball can be rolled along the muscle to aid in self massage and easing the stiffness.
If you have any questions about the Levator Scapula that you would like answered, or any aches and pains you would like addressed, please comment below, or Email Me.
I would like to thank Charlie Watson at Advanced Massage therapeutics for some of the information contained within this article.
Also used as resources was:
Sports & Remedial Massage Therapy by Mel Cash
Deep Tissue Massage: A visual guide to techniques by Art Riggs
The Concise Book of Neuromuscular Therapy by John Sharkey