A common area of stiffness and discomfort associated with neck & shoulder pain are the neck muscles, particularly the levator scapulae. This muscle runs from the base of the skull to the inner corner of the shoulder blade. It can also be a source of tension headaches.
Levator Scapulae is latin for ‘a lifter’ & ‘shoulder blade’ so the muscle lifts the shoulder blade. It’s full action is
* Scapular elevation and downward rotation
* Cervical extension, lateral flexion and ipsilateral rotation
The reasons for this muscles being shortened or overstretched vary, quite often it is related to poor posture and stress. These two things can cause the shoulders to hunch and rotate forwards, and the head to move forward.
Basic solutions start with being aware of your posture, have your shoulders started to creep up to your ears, has your chin moved forward, are you slouching?
As soon as you notice you are doing any of these, take a couple of minutes to go through some shoulder shrugs, shoulder rotations forwards & backwards, then pull your shoulders down and back – you’ll be surprised how raised they can get without you realising, and bring your head back in line with your spine. It can be tricky to know when your head is in line with your spine without a mirror but a wall can be useful and the correct position usually results in a slight double chin effect.
A nice little stretch that I use myself and recommend to my clients with levator scapulae problems is this one
- Standing in a nice neutral spine position
- shoulders back and down
- turn your head 45º left
- chin down to chest
- and then left ear to left shoulder, try not to raise your shoulders
You should feel the stretch from the base of the skull into the opposite shoulder.
Repeat this stretch moving your head to the right side, holding each one for a minimum of 30 seconds.
Soft tissue release and manual therapy to the neck & shoulders are great ways your therapist can help with any pain or stiffness in those areas, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to book in now!