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Levator Scapula – Functional Anatomy

Overview of the Anatomy of Levator Scalupa.

The Levator scapula is a ropy extrinsic back muscle that connects the scapula to the upper cervical vertebrae through the clavicle, manubrium, first rib, and lower cervical vertebrae.

Levator scapula is stretched by Forward-Head Posture, elevating and protracting the scapula.

Studies show that there are statistically significant variations in the structural anatomy of levator scapula. The upper portion may attach to a varying number of vertebrae as well as the occiput. The distal end may blend with serratus anterior, serratus posterior superior, or connect to the top two ribs.

Origin: Transverse processes of C1 through C4

Insertion: medial border of the scapula between the spine of the scapula and the superior angle.

Action: As the name implies, it elevates the scapula. This action assists in the downward rotation of the scapula. The sections that attach on the lower vertebrae and run more transversely toward the superior angle assist in retraction of the scapula. Anchoring the upper extrmity permits the upper sections to help rotate the upper cervicals and extend the neck. At the same time, it helps to rotate the scapula downwardly when the neck is stable. Wikipedia explores these variations with associated references. There are also numerous cadaver studies on the web.

Posts related to Levator Scapula


Wikipedia entry for Levator Scapula



This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began improving the format. We are also adding more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.


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This post shows you how to press out the trigger points and stretch the infraspinatus muscle. It’s a small muscle on the back of the shoulder but creates a number of problems, including:

  • shoulder pain when sleeping
  • loss of grip strength
  • upper neck pain
  • pain along the inside edge of the shoulder blade

Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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