The levator scapulae muscle, or levator scapulae for short, is one of several muscles that make up the “superficial layer” of your back muscles. The scapulae of the back have different functions, although not all athletes know how they are activated.
The levator scapulae influences both the movement of the neck and the posture of the upper back. It is involved in various movements of the scapula.
Where are they?
The scapulae are another name for the shoulder blade; it is the flat, triangular-shaped bone that sits on top of the rib cage , and they are the attachment point for 17 different muscles. There are two scapular bones, one on each side of the spine, in the back. Which are also attached to two muscles:
- The subscapularis muscle, which is part of the rotator cuff, attaches to the front of the scapula.
- The serratus anterior muscle, which inserts around the medial border of the scapula near the spine and passes in front of the scapula and wraps around the chest wall.
Along with the others, these two main muscles pull and push the shoulder blades, like a lever, to primarily move the arms. The scapula connects to the humerus at the glenohumeral (shoulder) joint and to the clavicle (clavicle) at the acromioclavicular joint. This series of connections is how the scapula connects the arms to the trunk.
The levator scapula lifts the scapula, or scapula, in a movement called elevation . It also rotates the scapula downward. By pulling upward from the inner corner of the scapula bone to the outside of the neck, where the levator scapulae attaches, this muscle indirectly moves the lower tip of the scapula toward the spine. This is the downward rotational movement mentioned above.
These movements of the shoulder blade are usually part of the larger movements of flexion and abduction of the shoulder joint. Flexion occurs when you move your arm forward and toward the ceiling, and abduction occurs when you move your arm to the side.
During flexion and/or abduction, the levator scapularis actively contracts. Contraction of the levator scapulae muscle can also move the neck. It participates in lateral flexion, which is called lateral flexion and rotation or twisting. The levator scapularis originates from cervical vertebrae one through four (C1 through C4) and attaches to the inner superior border of the scapula.
One of the primary functions of the scapulae is to hold the shoulder blade in a position that supports vertical alignment of the head with the neck and prevents forward head posture. But the shoulder blade is, by nature, an extremely mobile bone. Keeping it steady to maintain proper neck posture is no easy task.
In general, the six different types of movement that the scapulae allow are:
- Scapular Retraction and Protraction : Protraction and retraction of the scapula involves the trapezius, pectorals, rhomboids, and serratus anterior. We retract the scapula when we perform movements like barbell rows and one-arm rows. Protection is simply the opposite move. The chest and serratus anterior muscles spread the scapulae apart when doing push-ups or bench presses.
- Scapular Elevation and Depression : This movement, which looks like a shrug, is when the rhomboids and trapezius move the shoulder up and down.
- Scapular Up and Down Rotation : The scapulae engage in an up and down rotation when you bring your arms out and up, similar to what a lateral raise looks like.
exercises for scapulae
There are certain movements that favor the activation of the scapulae and their strengthening over the weeks.
Band pull-aparts are good for the scapula, but band inverted flies are better. Both movements focus on scapular retraction, but reverse band fly provides a longer range of motion (and therefore more tension). Also, as the range of motion is extended, we are able to work the muscles around the shoulder blades more fully.
It targets the rear delts and major upper back muscles, including the rhomboids and trapezius. To do it correctly:
- We’ll wrap a resistance band with handles around a pole or the column of a cable machine.
- We will take a handle in each hand and go back a few steps until the band is completely stretched.
- Keeping your elbows straight, your chest up, and your shoulders down, spread the band until your arms form a T.
- We will slowly return to the starting position and repeat.
Many people do push-ups by locking their elbows. However, to do scapular curls we will want to go beyond lockout to lengthen the scapulae and specifically target the scapular movement. This seems to round out the upper back, but what it does is train the serratus anterior, a muscle that attaches the scapula to the ribcage and gives that cutaway look under the pecs.
To do it correctly:
- We will place ourselves in the push-up plank position, with the hands under the shoulders and the body in a straight line from the head to the heels.
- We will lower towards the ground until the chest almost touches and then we will push up, with the hands through the ground, prolonging the shoulder blades rounding the upper part of the back as a cat would do.
- We will straighten our back and then return to the starting position.
This exercise requires us to drastically retract the scapula, training neglected lower traps, which is important for scapular stability. Pushing your shoulder blades down and away from your ears as you do this. If it’s too hard, we’ll keep our feet on the ground and pick them up one at a time.
The guidelines to do the exercise well are:
- With straight arms, we will place our hands on the material and hold them tightly.
- We will raise our legs and keep them straight until they are parallel to the ground and we have an L shape.
- We’ll roll our shoulders back and down, keep our back straight, and look straight ahead with our neck neutral.
Spine extension on fitball
Thoracic mobility promotes stability of the scapulae, which improves shoulder mobility. yes e. body senses a lack of mobility, compensations will be made up and down the kinetic chain, leading to pain and injury over time. There are tons of spinal extension variations, but not many that lock your lower back and work against gravity like this one.
- Lie face down on a stability ball with your hands behind your head and your ankles crossed behind you.
- We will gently extend the upper part of the body by taking the chest off the ball without arching the lower part of the back.
- We should feel a tension in the upper back and a slight stretch in the chest.
- We will slowly return to the starting position and repeat for reps.