Levator Scapulae Static Stretch

Levator Scapulae Static Stretch

This is Brent, President of B2C Fitness. In this video, we’re going to do our static, self-administered, levator scapulae
stretch. Now our levator scapulae is one of those muscles that gets over active and
adaptively shortens in those people with upper body dysfunction. As well as those individuals with
cervical posture dysfunction or forward head tilt. Now before we do this stretch, it involves the neck, and anytime we do a stretch for the neck, we need to be a
little bit more cautious. There’s some very delicate structures that can be
affected in the neck stretch. Things like our brachial plexus, we have these
little vertebral foramen that can impinge down on nerves. We have these transverse foramen that
house something called a vertebral artery, that can also get pinched down on and
affect blood flow to the brain. That would not be a positive thing at all, but
what I’m about to show you guys is totally safe, providing you remember one
thing. This stretch is not going to take the amount of force to lengthen a muscle
that you would use on some of the bigger structures and bigger joints in our
body. If we put the calf stretch on one end, taking a whole lot of force, you know
and then the hip takes a little less force, of course, when we’re dealing with the
shoulder, we need to be a little bit more delicate, cervical stretches would be
like way over here. They only take a really small amount of force to
create a lengthening of that structure. I’m gonna have my friend Laura come out
and help me demonstrate this exercise. Now, our levator scapulae goes from the
superior angle of our scapula to the transverse processes, those processes that stick out of the side of cervical vertebrae 1 through 4. Alright, so this muscle goes from here to here. I know you guys have felt this muscle
before. If you feel right down here near the origin, you probably got a lot of
trigger points, a lot of knots, a lot of painful spots. Alot of people attribute to
the trap, usually is this nasty little levator scapulae. Now, you guys can kind of see how it would pull us into that upper body postural dysfunction, but let’s see
how it would pull on it to get it lengthened, so we can get it stretched out, get
it to calm down. Alright, so this muscle does
this- lateral flexion, ipsilateral rotation, and extension. All we have to do
is the opposite to stretch. Alright, so she’s going to go into lateral flexion, rotation, and just a tad bit of flexion this way, and then
I’m going to improve the stretch just a little bit by having her stabilize her
scapula, by kind of reaching down with this arm. She doesn’t have to do it real hard, I don’t want to activate anything. Just stabilize and reach down a little bit. That will depress and posteriorly tip my scapula. Then she can create a little bit of overpressure
with this hand, by going to the back corner of her head, just with like either the weight
of her hand, or with the pressure of her fingertips, create enough force to get a
good stretch down here. Now, I’m going to show you guys a couple more angles you can see exactly
what’s this stretch looks like. If you go from the front, I think you guys have put together all
those joint actions real quickly, because this stretch has a nickname. It’s nicknamed “the
pocket stretch.” So if I have her depress, stabilize that scapula, she can hold on to the back of her thigh, or glute. And then I have her just look down into the opposite front pocket, let’s say this is pants, head, pockets. All right so, she’s gonna look right down here. She
just did all the joint actions I needed her to do. She did some lateral flexion. She did
some rotation. Just a little bit of flexion, and then she can use this hand
to help her see the bottom of her pocket. She can hold onto that. One little
pointer guys, because some people have a hard time feeling the stretch. Depress this scapula. All right, so you grab here. One thing I want you guys to know, it’s
probably the most important joint action of the three, to get a good stretch on
this muscle, is to go into lateral flexion. Alright, so when I say there’s flexion
and rotation, she’s not flexing like chin to her chest, she’s just lateral flexion, rotation next,
and then just a little bit of flexion. So you guys can see that angle matches up
with the exact opposing angle of this muscle here. She’ll then go ahead and put a slight bit of overpressure. Now, like all static stretches guys, we’re going to wait
30 seconds to 2 minutes, or ideally until we get enough of that golgi tendon organ stimulus to give
something called autogenic inhibition, which is going to be felt by us as
a release that allows us to lengthen out that tissue a little bit farther. So once
again guys, this is your levator scapulae stretch. We’re doing a static stretch, so
you’re gonna hold it for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. I hope you guys enjoy this
technique and see a good improvement in your movement. I’ll talk with you soon.

50 Replies to “Levator Scapulae Static Stretch”

  1. speaking as a RMT (Registered Massage Therapist in the province of Ontario), I have to say this is THE best LS stretch I've seen demonstrated on YouTube EVER! This is going to be saved so I can pull it up again to give to clients!

  2. Wow Daphne,
    That is some high praise… Best LS Stretch Ever! I might just have to print that and hang it on my wall 🙂
    Thank you so much for the support and kudos.

  3. Hi,

    If the lateral flexion of the head is more than 20 degrees say 40 to 50 degrees will that be more efficient ?

    Thank you

  4. Hey George,
    Good question, I would think not, for 3 reasons:
    #1 optimally we only have between 35-45 degrees lateral flexion, so many who need this stretch will not be able to get that far.
    #2 If you take up all of the lateral flexion there may not be enough joint motion left to stretch further into flexion and rotation
    #3 I think that much lateral flexion will make the scalenes the limiting structure and the primary tissue affected by the stretch.
    Hope that helps,

  5. great video.. Agree that out of all the stretches I teach (and I never see anyone else teach this btw), people have the most trouble with this one.. Part of is all the directions they are moving into and the other is breathing. I teach it using the contract/relax method and it requires a diaphragmatic breathing pattern.. Typically, those that present with FHP -Rounded Shoulder lack the ability to breath that way.. It's a process for sure.. 

  6. hey Brent , it's mike . Do your Levator scapulae stretches work for scar tissue as well? I have an injury from a dumbbell pull over I did a long time ago . went through lots of waiting for different tests then went to therapy but the therapy did not fix it . I am wondering if your stretches is what I need . Would working out help fix it as well maybe because of stretching and posture being changed or is it a bad idea . also … how many times a day do I do these stretches and releases and how many reps each time for 30 seconds to 2 minutes? let me know what you suggest for me to finally solve this issue , I feel confused why doctors with a degree still haven't? thanks for the vids hope to hear soon if you can help me out with some coaching , would be a miracle if you can help .

  7. I have a winged scapula and been having pain along the line of where my scap meets spine for months. Pt amounted to strengthening stabilizers and rotary cuff, which is weak. MRI showed no tear but some instability in anterior inferior joint capsule. Have been frustrated at no real helpful direction for what next. Could levator be at play? I started working on strengthening the serratus as well. See a new pt or manual therapist perhaps? Thanks for any suggestions you might have, I have found your instruction really helpful! 🙂

  8. Hey Uggel Mann,
    For some reason youtube will not let me post a reply directly on your comment, so I hope you get this.  It is definitely a bad thing when you start tingling anywhere in your arm or hand during a neck stretch.  Please stop stretching.  I actually do not use cervical spine stretches all that much and find that release techniques alone are usually sufficient to increase and maintain range of motion in the cervical spine when combined with the deep cervical flexor activation series I posted a few months back.
    Try doing your release and activation exercise and skipping streching… if the tingling continues or gets worse you need to see a physician.
    Thanks for the questions,

  9. Hi, i wonder if you can shed some light on this. I have an impingement in my shoulder ( no pain). Im almost certain its my teres major as ive been to a physio. He advised this is due to me having tight traps etc. But i do alot of self myofascial release/stretching/mobility etc as I am an olympic lifter. Its a really nagging thing. It effects mostly exercises like pull ups/ push presses.
    I get into my traps/levator scapulae with a hard ball and i can definately feel the tightness. But cant seem to get this impingement correct.
    It can be fine for a day or 2 or 3. But then comes back.
    I think the cause is how i would sleep on my side, with my left shoulder rolled forward. Possibly tightening/inhibiting certain muscles.
    I would appreciate a reply massively.

  10. New question answered on the video: Levator Scapulae SA Static Stretch

    #LevatorScapulae   #neckpain   #cervicalpain   #staticstretch   #staticstretching   #correctiveexercise   #physicaltherapy   #personaltrainer   #chiropractic   #Athletictrainer   #brookbushinstitute   #Brookbush  

  11. Do you think something like this could help with my scapular issues?  I have a video that show the issues.  Thank you very much for your help.  Had shoulder pain for over 3 years, continually getting progressively worse. :/

  12. Probably my very favorite video on YouTube — just one session of 12 reps has given me relief from 25 years of pain in my neck/shoulder/upper/mid back. You are the man. Thank you!  I absolutely love your videos. You are the very best, IMO.

  13. Thanks great vid!! I just had a question however…the levator scapulae is also an downward rotator of the scapula, so wouldn’t the stretch be more effective if the left arm was placed into overhead flexion (while avoiding shrugging the shoulder)??

  14. New comment on the video: Levator Scapulae Static Stretch 

    #BrookbushInstitute   #LevatorScapulae   #Levator   #Stretch   #StaticStretch   #PhysicalTherapyAid   #PhysicalTherapyAide   #PhysicalTherapyAssisstant   #PTA   #OccupationalTherapy   #OT   #PhysicalTherapyStudent  #StudentPhysicalTherapist

  15. Just want to point out how educational following you has been for my progress on learning and training. Thank you

  16. I wake up in the middle of the night in panic with the sensation of my head falling backwards and my neck in a weird position. The only way to get a temporary relief is for me to get in supine position and nod my chin a little.
    Problem is i dont think my deep flexors are weak because when i try to tuck or nod too much I feel like I'm already at end-range and its a scary sensation.

     I also tend to shrug and round my shoulders more than before. I stretch my pecs and lats daily . Are my lev scap. involved? How to be sure i'm stretching the lev scap and not upper trap?

    I've seen numerous therapists, chiropractors, osteopaths you name it and the only thing they can say is: my SCM's are "stuck", one fiber of the trapezius is taking everything else in "hostage" and my C2 vertebrae is out of place (without anyone being able to fix it). What is going on with me? HOPING for some kind of answer. THANK YOU

  17. Very clear and precise. I'd like to know how exactly is this stretch different from upper traps stretch?

  18. very helpful………..this hits my problem area……….how often do you suggest do these stretches? It hits my trigger area, but once I release my muscle seems to cramp up……….its take a few minutes to calm down.

  19. AT what point may I progress to the Active Stretch, then Active release. I just began doing the static stretch yesterday……….am I imagining things, or after 3 sessions I am already feeling a difference??? Been in agony for 3 months. Have been to countless doctors and did countless testes. NO ONE addressed Levator Scapulae. In fact, my Yoga Anatomy training backgournd send me on my own research journey…………and I kinda figured it out. Then I found YOU!

  20. Bravo! So far, you have the best explained stretches on the net! And you do stretches more than 30 seconds which is rare to find! I've been teaching for 16 years this way, I will share your channel with all my customers! Thank you

  21. Thanks a lot for this! I'm working with computers and my posture isn't that good and I'm slouching quite a bit. I know I have to fix that and I'm working on it, but it feels like the pain makes me slouch even more. Is this the Levator Scapulae?
    Anyway, I tried the stretch two minutes on each side and it feels considerably better after just this one time. What kind of stretching program do you recommend going forward? How many times per day? How long? When should I start with the active release?
    Again, thanks a lot!

  22. Hi,

    Doing this stretch (not forcing myself too much) to the left I get tingly sensation on my right arm (the one behind) after some 15-20 seconds. Should I stop doing it or this is normal? I'm an 36 yo office worker and I know my posture has to be better.

  23. Studying next level, referral to exercise with YMCA London. Got 2 hypothetical clients. A client with Osteoporosis and High Blood Pressure. Risks and Cautions = Offer seated support, no supine lying, take caution with unsupported spinal flexion and weighted spinal rotation. Hypertension, I have to avoid Isometric Exercises, jeez So no supine and no Isometric exercises!! I have to avoid prolonged upper body exercises and include a rest if so, and to avoid holding one's breath = Valsalva, to take into consideration postural hypotension. My second client also has osteoporosis and hypercholesterolemia. Thank goodness I have till Oct 29th to do this by, oh and also have a third real client. Whom has hypercholesterolemia and hypertension.

  24. ThanksIn general, I find conditioned air with extreme cooling via ceiling vents in office settings a contributing factor to my shoulder and neck issues. The downward directional air often is blowing directly over office chairs and work stations…and many hunched over computers, etc for extended periods of time. Routinely, IMO, temps in many offices and homes are too cold and contribute to my issues and discomfort.

  25. I have advised a stretch to one of my patient That shoulder depression by placing hand to hold the chair, contralateral rotation and flexion, for upper traps stretching, is it the correct why to self stretch??

  26. hey, im kinda confused about levator scapulae's action when it acts unilaterally, with the insertion fixed, does it extends or flexes the neck with lateral flex and rotation to the same side?

  27. Looking at where you were before and now i see the steps. The steps it took to get to where you need to be. Execution, consistency, love and the passion to help others. You are a mentor, and learned your craft as an art form. Amazing job as always. I am waiting for your next book! I know you have a biography in you!

  28. Brent,
    I'm going to start the levator scapulae, suprapinatus and upper trap SA static releases for my spinal stenosis. How many times a week and for how long should I do these before I move on to active? Thanks!

  29. I Am A Female. I Work Out A lot. I Just Noticed My Upper Trap Is Looking More Muscular And I Want Them To Go Down. Would These Stretches Help That? If You Know Any Other Way Please Let Me Know (Or Anyone) Thanks.

  30. Hi doc!.

    I got 2 surgery's two times slap tear shoulder (labrum tear type2)

    Left side 15months ago shoulder is good rom is good. Pain in the back is intent i cant work with it and my shoulder elevates by every thing i do.

    Right shoulder 5 months surgery ago and this one is good to go.

    Problem is on the left side.

    I think this will help me a lot thx! Any tips for me i seriously get kramps and very much pain in mid upper back traps its so sour cant do nothing with it.

  31. Excellent demonstration Brent! The "pocket" cue is brilliant. Going to start using that with my clients. Makes the explanation process so much more succinct and clear. Thanks!

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