Welcome back to Drunk Anatomy! Nope, no acknowledgement of how long it's been since this series updated--that's not what you're here for! If you are, in fact, here, which I am dubious about. Know what I'm not dubious about? Anatomy! Okay, that's a lie and basically the opposite of the premise of these posts. Whatever, let's get into it!
This week we will be learning about the levator scapulae. Hmm, yes, well, what an interesting choice. I KNOW AND ALSO THANK YOU. First things first, I eat your brains let's tackle pronunciation. If you're anything like me, and god help you if you are, you're saying it wrong.
Looking at "levator," you'd think it's an unnecessary to the degree of pointless shortening of elevator, right? Except it's not, it's a muscle, but it is pronounced as thought it were. Maybe this is an unnecessary clarification, but I was saying it "lev-uh-tore" until like a month ago so I'm not about to assume who knows how to say what.
So...you're not going to explain why you haven't update in, like, a thousand years?
Nope! The levator scapulae is located in the neck, attached to the vertebrae there, and runs down to the shoulder blade. It's there not just for funnies, but to raise the scapula. Anyone else need a refresher on what the scapula is? No? Just me? FINE, but this is my blog post so you're going to sit through it regardless. The scapula is the shoulder blade, which is also called the shoulder girdle and I 5000% understand why no one says that ever.
Judging by the number of times I've seen this muscle listed when entering massage notes (that's right, I know all your secrets for the minute that I'm typing them and then I instantly forget), it's an issue for a lot of people.
You know, it's been over a year. I think that warrants some kind of explanation.
I don't not disagree! Knowing what we know about knowing that the levator exists to raise the shoulder blade--sorry to reduce you down to one thing, levator--we can pretty much guess when we use it. I'm assuming there are some readers who are not terribly imaginative, so let's run through some examples!
You use your levator when you shrug one shoulder at someone because what/whoever you're gesturing at isn't worth a double shoulder raise; when you pin your cell phone between your shoulder and your ear; when you hike up your shoulders to your ears because you handle stress by clenching your body; when it turns out that what/whoever you were shrugging at actually is worth a double shoulder shrug; when you raise a glass to toast someone; typing; when you desperately grip onto those overhead bars on the bus for stability; when you clap your hand onto the shoulder of someone who is taller than you because you want to seem extra condescending and words just won't do it; when you hold a case of beer on your shoulder so everyone knows you're a burly strong straight man; and even more examples that would take up too much space on this here blog post!
Right, but the ones you listed already took up a lot of space so like...? Also, you haven't even apologized for abandoning us and then trying to pick right back up like nothing happened.
That brings us to the stretching instruction portion! Regular massages and at-home stretches are the best way to keep your muscles from exacting their revenge in the form of you not being able to move your body. I can't/won't/will never do anything for you about the massage part, but here is a stretch that will alleviate tightness and get your ROM* back.
Gently place your hand on the back of your hand. Now, even gentler, pull your head out and away from the source of tension so that it's pointed toward your opposite foot. Gentlest of all, hold for 15-30 seconds. I find it really helps a stretch if you breath in deeply, then as you exhale, stretch further or massage the muscle in question while you stretch it.
Now, go forth and be limber and knowledgeable!
*ROM = range of motion. Just a little LMT shorthand for ya.
Lindsay is the Office Superhero (check the business cards) at Mantis Massage. She knows essentially zilch about massage therapy other than that it feels real nice. Outside of random trivia, she has retained nothing from talking with the therapists re: anatomy. Lindsay might maybe possibly definitely be inebriated for these discussions, but who's to say?