The levator scapulae muscle is the most important part of the neck, which frequently contributes to neck and shoulder pain. In fact, in the modern lifestyle, and working pattern, pain in the neck and upper shoulder mostly occurs due to any disorder in the levator scapulae. Anyone can easily understand the existence of levator scapulae trigger points just by seeing the person from a distance. An individual having any issue or pain in this muscle moves the neck very slowly, or can't move at all. They turn the entire body to look in the left or right. Exercises can help to a great extent to reduce levator scapulae pains and discomforts.
Levator Scapulae Exercises
Tightness or any other minor disorders in the levator scapula can be rectified with the help of a stretching exercise. Here is the technique of performing this exercise for levator scapulae:
- Sitting in the right posture is important to perform this exercise for levator scapulae. The performer needs to sit on a chair with the feet wide apart and the back and abdomen erect.
- In the above position, the right hand is to be taken behind the torso and need to grab the edge of the chair tightly. Now, the body is to be leaned to the left a little bit keeping the head vertically. Now, in this position, the performer needs to lift the right shoulder upwards for a few seconds. While doing so, the body can't be tilted sideways anymore. Relaxing for a few seconds, the upper body is to be tilted a little more to the left side. In this position the following stretching exerciseare to be practiced:
- The head is to be tilted 45 degrees to the left directing the nose towards the left hip. The left hand is to be placed behind the head and then the head is to be pulled gently at an angle toward the left knee without hunching over. The neck will feel a stretch in this posture. It is to be practiced for 5 to 10 seconds and then the hand is to be withdrawn relaxing the head. After 2-3 days, the stretch can be deepened by slowly pulling the head towards the chest in the directions of the knee.
- In the same posture, the head is to be tilted 45 degrees to the left in the similar way, and the left hand is to be positioned on the back of the head. Now, the head is to be pulled backwards, while the hand will resist the head from getting backwards. It will create a stress on the left levator scapula. After a rest for a few seconds the same exercise for levator scapulae is to be practiced once again. It can be continued for 10-15 minutes.
The entire exercise is to be practiced for the right levator scapula also by following the same steps in the right side. Practicing the exercises for both the levator scapulae muscles is necessary to keep the correct balance and get proper recovery, even if the pain or tightness may not be felt on the both sides.
In addition to the above stretching exercises for levator scapulae, one should also try doing some strengthening exercises for levator scapulae which includes dumbbell shrugs to improve the elevating function of the levator scapulae. In dumbbell shrug levator scapulae exercise, it is important to shrug your shoulders as high as possible while holding the dumbbells in your hands.
Other strengthening exercises for levator scapulae include weighted lateral neck flexion and weighted neck extension.
To do weighted lateral neck flexion exercise for levator scapulae, you need to tilt your head toward either shoulder against resistance machine or pulley resistance.
Weighted neck extension exercise for strengthening the levator scapulae can be done by applying resistance to the back of your head as you hyperextend your neck to move your chin away from your chest.
Levator scapulae are important muscles that control many of the normal day-to-day activities of human beings. Pain and tightness in that part of the body are really annoying for the affected person. Apart from the other causes, the changing lifestyle, and working pattern of human beings have been causing tightness in the muscles, and related problems in the neck, head, and back. A little bit of care, and practicing the above-mentioned stretching exercise for levator scapulae muscle can control the problem to a great extent. However, any problem in exercising should be brought into the notice of a physical therapist who will show the right way of practicing these immensely beneficial exercises.