Daily Mobility Exercises by Dr. Kelly Starrett Forums Back Levator Scapulae Tightness

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    • #71768
      AvatarJulie Daugherty

      Hey Everyone,

      I’ve had an issue for months that began with pull ups – Since this happened I have a weird feeling in my mid and upper back as if I can’t retract shoulder blades.  Not only are they weak, but they just don’t feel like they fire.  Pain in the traps and really stuck in the crease of traps and neck.  Despite seeing lots and lots and lots of practioners over the last few months there hasn’t been a resolution.
      I then went and saw an Osteopath last week who says this is a levator scapulae problem.  It seems odd that nobody else would have looked here as it’s making more sense to me that this is the cause.  He is going to give me lidocaine injections in a few weeks and also an EMG to see if the dorsal scapular nerve is being trapped in the levator and causing the rhomboids to just not work.  I searched through the MWod episodes and only found one mention of the levator – I’m wondering if anyone has any tips for getting a good chunk of this thing chilled out? 
      I’ve only been working on it for a few days – if I press down really hard in the belly of the muscle for 10 or so seconds I get a big release and everything starts moving well again but it comes back within a few minutes.  I’m assuming it will just take a little while since it’s been happening for 7 months now.
      Any tips?
    • #76874
      AvatarPatrick Thomas

      Need to rule out possible nerve related causes.

      The levator scapulae elevates the Scapula.
      Trap (middle part), Rhomboid major and minor work with this muscle.
      Are you addressing these?
      Muscles which work in opposition to this muscle Latissimus dorsi, Pectoralis major and minor, Serratus anterior, Subclavius, Trapezius (lower part).
      Are you addressing these?

      All can be impacting the situation.

    • #76886
      AvatarPatrick Thomas

      This is on your other entry, however, wanted the follow up here as well.Have you let your chiropractor know you aren’t seeing improvements?

      Has thoracic outlet syndrome been ruled out?
      Episode 86: New Shoulder Mob Zulu: First Rib Love
      Episode 257: Athletic Thoracic Outlet

      The scalenes are 3 pairs of muscles in the lateral neck.
      They are innervated (to communicate nervous energy to; stimulate through nerves) by the fourth, fifth, and sixth cervical spinal nerves (C4-C6).

      brachial plexus and subclavian artery pass between the anterior and
      middle scalenes. The middle scalenes descend along the side of the 
      vetebral column to insert by a broad attachment into the upper surface
      of the first rib, between the tubercle and the subclavian groove. The
      brachial plexus passes anterior to the middle scalenes.

      dorsal scapular nerve arises from the brachial plexus usually from the
      plexus root of the cervical nerve C5. Once the nerve leaves C5 it
      commonly pierces the middle scalene muscle, and continues deep to
      levator scapulae and the rhomboids (minor superior to major). It
      provides motor innervation to the rhomboid muscles which pull the scapula towards the spine and levator scapulae muscle which elevates the scapula.

      Has anyone looked at your scapula placement when standing at attention?
      the dorsal scapular nerve is injured the scapula on the injured side is
      located farther from the midline than the uninjured scapula. When this
      happens the person is unable to pull their shoulder back.
      Injury to this nerve may cause the scapula winging. The scap may become laterally displaced with upward rotation.

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