Anatomy Review: Levator Scapula, The Saga

Origin: C3-5 Insertion: Superior angle of the scapula  Action: Lifts scapula and/or extends the neck (Excessive:“Knot” or upper scapula) Antagonist: Inferior fibers of trapezius

The levator scapula is a cable-like muscle that is usually overworked by our tendency to hunch our shoulders up. In the life of the levator scapula, this means it’s constantly tugging on the superior angle of the scapula. Usually, the muscles and bone here make a deal. The subcortical conversation goes something like this.

Scapula: Look, why don’t we try this – I’ll just thicken up a little bit, and you shorten your tendon; then everything will be nice and tight and you wont’ have to be pulling on me all day.

The overworked levator, of course, agrees. But the next time it needs to move quickly and easily…uh-oh.

Levator: Hey! Things are so tight, I can’t move!

Scapula: Hey, buddy, you made a deal.

And so it goes, folks, in the naked city of flesh and bone.

But – ah-ha! Who should come to the rescue but the erstwhile Massage Therapist…

Using the flat of the knuckle, pressing in toward the insertion, this unholy alliance of bone and tendon is slowly but surely broken down. Melting little by little, the thickened tissues, freedom of the movement and nourishment are restored.

Reminding said client, “Please keep these shoulders down and remember to breathe, even when the going gets a little rough,” our hero rides off. Said body breathes a sigh of relief, “Boy, who was that person? We sure could use more of them in these parts!”

Thus ends the saga of “Levator Scapula and the MassageTherapist.”

David Lauterstein’s Anatomy Review articles are now an online massage CE called Putting the Soul Back in the Body. Visit our new Online CE Workshops web page for current offerings. TLCschool’s second online workshop Intro to Deep Massage will be released June 28, 2010. Massage therapists who enroll in Deep Massage: The Upper Pole will receive Intro to Deep Massage for free – that’s 15 hours of CE credit for the price of a 12-hour workshop.