Functional Anatomy – Levator Scapula

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

Levator Scapula is often poorly illustrated without the twist in the fibers. This twisting is important to understand the subtle differences function of different parts of the muscle. The twist also creates a lump at the end of the stroke when using bodywork techniques that glide along the muscle, trapping the twist at the end of the stroke.

Studies show that there are statistically significant variations in the muscle attachments at both ends. The upper portion may attach to 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.

As the name indicates, it elevates the scapula but also assists in retracting and stabilizing the scapula during labored or assistive breathing.

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. When the arm is anchored, it helps to rotate the upper cervicals and extend the neck.

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

Wikipedia entry for Levator Scapula

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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