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11 January 2011 ~ 0 Comments

Upper trap/Levator Scap Mobilization

In this post I’m going to show you how to use a theracane to mobilize the muscles in the your neck. This includes the large upper trapezius muscle and the smaller, but often problematic levator scap muscle. The goal with this mobilization is to anchor one end of the muscle down and then actively stretch the muscle out against it. While it’s possible to perform this laying on your back with a tennis ball, I’m a much bigger of using the cane to apply pressure and then maintain it throughout the movement (the tennis ball tends to move if you don’t have it positioned right). If the neck is a problem area, the cane is cheap and well worth the $$. :)

Key Points

1) Go back and read the massage post specifically on the neck itself to review the body landmarks and muscles in this region. The main areas you will need to be able to locate for this mobilization are the upper trap and where the levator scap attaches to the top corner of the shoulder blade closest to the spine. When you read the post on muscle massage your will find detailed instructions for how to accurately palpate the these areas.

2) There are two mobilizations for the neck; the first one is for the upper trap. To start this mobilization, position the cane on the middle of the muscle belly (above the middle point of the shoulder blade; note the upper trap is on top of the shoulder). Position the theracane and then tilt your ear towards that shoulder (sidebend your neck). Apply pressure and then slowly try to sidebend your neck to the opposite side. Don’t try to force it! Only go as far as you can comfortably and then return to the start position. See video below for full details.

3) The second mobilization is for the levator scap.  You want to work on the levator  just above where it attaches to the top of the shoulder blade. This means that you will need to position the cane just behind the neck. Use the palpation tips in the massage blog post first to make sure you can find this area! Position the cane and then try to look behind you over that shoulder. From here, apply pressure and then try to look down and under the opposite arm pit. Only go as far as you can comfortably and then return to the start position. See the video below for full details.

4) Try to perform 10 reps.

5) Same warm up rules apply. Try to do this either following a workout or warm up the area with the foam roller first. Especially if you’re coming back from an injury or this is a problem area

6) If you’re looking for the theracane click here or google/amazon it. typically it goes for about $25-30. One of the things I enjoy most about it is the placement of the hand holds so that you can easily maintain pressure on the area you are working on. It also has a variety of knobs you can use when performing the mobilizations (each are numbered in the picture below).


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