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The levator scapulae is a group of muscles located in the back and the side of the neck. When this muscle becomes tense, you can experience a stiff, painful neck. You can also experience pain in between the shoulder blades and out towards the arm when the levator scapulae become over stressed. There are many wonderful exercises to help stretch this muscle group. Continue reading to learn how to stretch the levator scapulae muscles and find relief.
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Before Stretching – What You Need To Know
What Does the Levator Scapulae Muscles Do?
Before we look at the exercises that can stretch these muscles, let’s take a look at what the levator scapulae muscles do. First, these muscles allow you to elevate your shoulders, allow you to rotate your neck and bend it from side to side. Finally, they allow you to look up and look down.
What Causes Levator Scapulae Pain?
Overworking the muscles can cause pain and tension. Holding the phone between your shoulder and ear can cause pain, lifting heavy loads and even sleeping incorrectly can lead to pain. Because these muscles can be overworked quite easily, it is important that you learn how to stretch levator scapulae muscles and prevent the pain from returning.
Massaging The Levator Scapulae Muscle
The levator scapulae are covered by your trapezius muscle. Because of this, it can be difficult to determine how the levator scapulae attach to the scapula and the neck. To find its location, use your hand and feel your opposite shoulder blade. You should feel a bony spot at the top of the shoulder blade. This is where the muscle attaches.
To massage the area, begin at the side of your neck up against your skull. Follow the muscle downward towards the top of your shoulder blade. Use downward and outwards strokes to lengthen the muscle and relieve your pain. The pressure used during this massage should be mild to prevent dizziness and sore muscles.
Using an electric massaging device is a popular alternative and often more rewarding. In the instance of the neck region, in particular the Levator Scapulae a soft Shiatsu Neck Massaging device is a great choice. These massagers replicate the actions of a real person massaging. Which is ideal for the neck as they can reach hard to get spots on your own. The kneading action of Shiatsu massage works very well for stretching out the Levator Scapulae muscle.
Exercises to Stretch and Soothe Your Aching Levator Scapulae Muscles
When the levator scapulae muscles shorten and become tight, you can experience neck pain. You may not be able to turn your neck and may experience headaches. The following two exercises will stretch these muscles and help strengthen them.
– Corner Stretches
Corner stretches help stretch the chest, neck and shoulders, including the levator scapulae. This stretch can be performed almost anywhere. All you need is a corner and a few minutes. Find a corner and stand two feet away from the corner. Place your feet together and place your forearms on the wall with your elbows at shoulder height. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch across your shoulders and chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to a minute and gentle stand back up straight. Repeat the stretch as needed.
– Levator Scapula Stretches
This exercise helps to relieve neck pain and shoulder pain. It can be done anywhere (sitting or standing) and at any time to lengthen the muscle and relieve pain. Raise your elbow above the shoulder and rest the elbow and forearm against a wall to lengthen your levator scapula. Turn your head away from the wall and bring your chin downward. To further enhance the stretch, place your free hand on top of your head and press the head forward and hold for 30 seconds to a minute. Repeat the exercise on the other side.
Neck pain and stiffness is quite common. It can occur from an injury, heavy lifting, hold a phone against your shoulder and poor posture. More times then not, sleep is a strong case for neck stiffness. Waking up with a stiff neck can be maintained, yet it is hard to completely eliminate. Neck exercises help to relieve pain and prevent headaches. Learning how to stretch levator scapulae muscles and maintaining proper posture can relieve your neck pain tremendously.
More Massage Info On The Levator Scapula
In this 10 minute long video you can see first hand how to give someone else a massage focusing on the Levator Scapula. As this is a commonly affected neck muscle to feel pain it’s a great idea to get your partner or friend trained on massaging this particular neck muscle.