Levator Scapulae Stretches

Are you looking for the best Levator Scapulae Stretches?

This blog post should help relax your tight neck!

What causes a tight Levator Scapulae?

levator scapulae
  • Certain postures (See bottom of post for more information.)
  • Shrugged shoulders
  • Looking towards one side. (Eg. Using a computer)
  • Using phone between the shoulder and head

How do I know if my Levator Scapulae is tight?

Perform the following 2 tests to see if your Levator Scapulae is tight:

a) Rotation

tight levator scapulae test

Instructions:

  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Rotate your head to the left and right.

Results: If you have a restricted amount of neck rotation AND feel a pulling sensation on the opposite side, this may suggest that your Levator Scapulae is tight.

b) Side Tilt

How do I know if my Levator Scapulae is tight?

Instructions:

  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Tilt your head to the left and right.

Results: If you have a restricted amount of side tilt AND feel a pulling sensation on the opposite side, this may suggest that your Levator Scapulae is tight.


Levator Scapulae Stretches

1. Releases

Before performing the Levator Scapulae stretches, I would strongly suggest the release the muscle first.


a) Levator Scapulae Release

levator scapulae release

Instructions:

  • Locate the Levator Scapula muscle.
    • (Use Google if you are not sure of the location.)
  • Lie on the floor.
  • Place the Levator Scapulae on top of a massage ball.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of weight on top of the wall.
  • Make sure to cover the entire muscle.
  • Duration: 1-2 minutes.

2. Stretches for Levator Scapulae

The most important thing with the following stretches is to specifically position your body so that you can FEEL a definite stretch in the Levator Scapulae.

Note: Try out of all of the following Levator Scapulae stretches. Focus on the one that gives you the most effective stretch.


a) Arm behind

levator scapulae stretch

Instructions:

  • Keep your chin tucked in throughout the stretch.
  • Place the arm (on the same side that you would like stretch) behind your back.
  • Pull your shoulder blade downwards.
  • Look towards the arm pit on the opposite side.
  • Place your hand on the top of your head and pull your head towards the arm pit.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

b) Using resistance band

levator scapulae stretch with band

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing on top of a thick resistance band, hold the band with your hand.
  • Make sure there is a firm amount of tension of the band so that it is pulling your arm downwards.
  • Keep your chin tucked in throughout the stretch.
  • Look towards the arm pit on the opposite side.
  • Place your hand on the top of your head and pull your head towards the arm pit.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

c) Arm over

stretch for the levator scapulae

Instructions:

  • Keep your chin tucked in throughout the stretch.
  • Place the arm (on the same side that you would like stretch) behind your upper back.
  • Look towards the arm pit on the opposite side.
  • Pull your shoulder blade downwards.
  • Place your hand on the top of your head and pull your head towards the arm pit.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

d) Seated Levator Scapulae stretch

Seated Levator Scapulae stretch

Instructions:

  • Hold onto the under side of a chair with your hand.
  • Lean your body weight towards the opposite side.
  • Gently tuck in your chin.
  • Look towards the arm pit on the opposite side of the hand holding onto the chair.
  • Place your hand on the top of your head and pull your head towards the arm pit.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

e) Against Wall

Instructions:

  • Place the side of your head and top of your shoulder against the wall.
  • Turn your head away from the wall.
  • Gently lean into the wall.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

f) Rotation over press

neck rotation over pressure

Instructions:

  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Turn your head away from the side that you are trying to stretch.
  • Place your hand on the side of your jaw and pull your head in more rotation.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Note: Do not force this movement if you feel any dizziness or pain.

g) Towel

levator scapulae stretch wth towel

Instructions:

  • Place a towel or band on top of your shoulder.
  • Hold onto both ends of the band with your hand. (see above)
  • Pull downwards.
  • Gently tuck your chin in and look towards the arm pit on the opposite side.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

h) Manual Stretch

(You will require assistance with this stretch.)

manual levator scapulae stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie down on the floor or bed.
  • Your partner needs to place one hand on the top of your shoulder and the other supporting underneath your head. (See above)
  • Instruct your partner to push the shoulder down as they pull the head towards the opposite arm pit.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Eccentric Strengthening Exercises

Weak muscles will tend to be tight. Strengthening the Levator Scapula in a relatively lengthened position can help reclaim the full length of the muscle.


a) Shrugs

strengthening exercise for levator scapulae

Instructions:

  • Hold onto an appropriate amount of weight in your hands.
  • Shrug your shoulders upwards.
  • Slowly lower your shoulders.
  • Repeat 20 times.

b) Resisted Rotation

neck rotation strengthening exercise

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your side.
    • (The target side will be on the upper side.)
  • Slowly turn your head towards the floor.
  • Look towards the sky.
  • Repeat 20 times.

c) Resisted Lateral Flexion

levator scapulae strengthening

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your side.
    • (The target side will be on the upper side.)
  • Slowly lower your head towards the floor.
  • Tilt your head upwards.
  • Repeat 20 times.

4. Address Posture

The following postures can place the Levator Scapulae muscle in a shortened/tightened position.


a) Forward Head Posture

Forward Head Posture

The poked head position places the Levator Scapulae in a shortened position (especially if the shoulders are shrugged upwards).

For more information: How to Fix Forward Head Posture.

b) Scoliosis

scoliosis

Side tilting of the spine can force the Levator Scapulae to compensate by counter-tilting the head.

For more information: Scoliosis Exercises.

c) Twisted Spine

twisted spine

If the torso is rotated towards one side, the Levator Scapulae on the opposite will compensate in attempt to bring the head back into a more neutral position.

For more information: Twisted Spine Exercises.

d) Uneven Shoulders

uneven shoulders

If one shoulder is higher, this is usually due to the Levator Scapulae hitching the shoulder blade upwards.

For more information: Uneven Shoulders Exercises.


Conclusion

If you have a tight neck, try out the mentioned variations of Levator Scapulae stretches.

Try them all… But pick one that is most effective for you.

You do not need to do them all.


What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me:

Facebook | Instagram

3. Start doing the exercises!


Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. For more informationMedical disclaimer.

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