What Causes Levator Scapulae Pain & How To Escape It
Alright, it’s now time to talk about Levator Scapulae pain and the muscle itself! This is a joyous event indeed. For some reason while I was in bed just now recovering from foot surgery…it dawned on me that….yes….this is what must be done! And so it shall!
Most of you reading this probably know some things about the Levator Scapulae. But in case you wandered here through some strange circumstance, like your cat walking on the keyboard and hitting the enter key….have no fear! I shall be explaining to you what this muscle is! I shall also be explaining to you what causes Levator Scapulae pain, as well as how to stretch this muscle.
So let’s get down to things!
A Quick Recap Of What The Levator Scap Muscle Is
Pretty much, the Levator Scapulae is a muscle that runs down each side of your neck and attaches to your shoulder blades.
About Levator Scapulae Function
The Levator Scapulae muscle has several actions. They include…
- Contracting on both sides to stabilize and support your neck
- Side bending your neck to one side
- Rotating your neck to one side
- Extending your neck backwards
- Elevating your shoulder blades to shrug your shoulders
NOW I hope you are more familiar with this muscle. Let’s orient your fitness further now and learn how this muscle becomes painful.
How Levator Scapulae Pain Happens
Well, unless you’ve been living in a cave and raised by wolves since you were born, you’ve probably noticed something.
You’ve probably noticed that people do A LOT OF SITTING in their life!
In fact, I’d bet that as you are reading this article, you are sitting and looking down at something, such as your iPhone or laptop. You are probably in a position while working where you are constantly looking down at your screen too.
So now, REMEMBER how up above I said the Levator Scapulae co-contracts on each side to stabilize and support your neck?
This is going to happen ESPECIALLY when your head is down and you are gazing down at something.
So now, think of HOW MANY HOURS EACH DAY YOU ARE IN THIS POSITION! If you are constantly in this position, you are straining your neck! You are essentially overworking your Levator Scapulae muscle. You are causing it to contract too much to stabilize your own head while it is in that forward position.
On top of that, your shoulders may be shrugged up too. This is yet another function of the Levator Scap. NOTICE how in the above picture, both of them have their shoulders shrugged somewhat while they are typing? This is putting the Levator Scap into a CHRONICALLY SHORTENED POSITION!
Because of the above, IT’S NO WONDER PEOPLE GET LEVATOR SCAPULAE PAIN! Not only are they in bad forward head posture constantly, but they are also shrugging their shoulders too much due to bad body positioning.
Now that you know how Levator Scapulae pain happens, let’s go over some simple positioning things you can do to help yourself out. Then, I will teach you the absolute best way regarding how to stretch this muscle.
How To Position Your Body To Alleviate Levator Scapulae Pain
Essentially, you want to do as MUCH as you can to take stress off this muscle in your everyday life. Luckily, this is not TOO hard to do!
One thing to do is to place things such as your phone and laptop EYE LEVEL with yourself! As I said above, when you look down, your Levator Scapulae has to contract on both sides to stabilize your head. Therefore, you want to position things around you so that you AREN’T LOOKING DOWN!
As for what I personally do, I PLACE MY LAPTOP ON AN ELEVATED PLATFORM. By doing this, it is eye level with me and I am not constantly looking down. This definitely takes stress off my Levator Scapulae muscle and keeps my neck in an aligned position.
The same thing can be said for your phone. RAISE YOUR PHONE TO EYE LEVEL WHEN LOOKING AT IT. This simple readjustment with how you hold your phone can save you from straining your Levator Scapulae in the long run.
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Here’s another thing you can do involving the armrests of your chair. If your armrests are too high, LOWER THEM!
When your armrest is too high, you are going to be elevating your shoulders more. What is a prime function of the Levator Scap? It is as its name suggests, elevating your shoulders!
Therefore, if you place yourself in a position where your shoulders are constantly shrugged, this muscle will become chronically tight. This will then lead to Levator Scapulae pain that you don’t want!
Now then, let’s get into the part you’ve been waiting for!
How To Do A Levator Scap Stretch
I have an in depth video below explaining exactly how to stretch this muscle.
You should NOT have pain while stretching. If you do, Stop!
To sum things up, you essentially do the following
- Reach your arm down to the opposite side of the Levator Scap you are stretching. If sitting, grab the bottom of the chair. You want to depress your shoulder down essentially.
- Side bend your head to the opposite side
- Rotate your head to the opposite side
- Take your free hand and add a bit of extra pressure to try and flex your head down a bit. DON’T go heavy since your neck isn’t meant to take heavy pressure.
Lucky for you, I have a video showing you how to do this Levator Scap stretch.
To get to the stretch, go to 1:42 of the video. Remember to give the video a Thumbs Up if you like it!
Hopefully this stretch here helps you out with your Levator Scapulae pain. I think it will!
P.S. If you have shoulder and back pain, I wrote an article about a great self massage tool that may help you out!
Thank you for reading this article, Comment BELOW if you liked it, and I hope it oriented your fitness in the right direction!