By Sharon Truelove
Spending too much time looking down?
Tightness in the neck and shoulder region (not to mention, many headaches) can be caused from a tight Levator Scapula. Postions such as head forward posture (staring at a monitor for hours on end), looking down for long periods of time (reading with the book in your lap) can affect this muscle greatly. Levator Scapula is one of many core muscles in the neck responsible for stabilizing (like a guy wire). It is located posteriorly at the side of the neck, and as its’ name implies, it lifts the scapula.
It’s probably one of the first muscles you try to rub after you’ve been incorrectly holding your head flexed for too long while trying to work and look down on something. Reaching up with the opposite hand you rub, rub, rub…you try to get someone else to rub, rub, rub…to no avail. Well, following are some stretches that may prove very helpful when your neck feels tight.
To start, setting straight in a chair with your feet flat place your right hand over your head and just above your left ear (see below) gently laterally flex the neck (right ear to right shoulder with the right hand). Then gently resist (pull left ear away from right shoulder)—be gentle, as too much pulling or resisting can have an opposite effect and cause pain. Repeat on the other side. Do this 3 times.
For the next stretch, do the same as explained above, but tuck your chin and point your chin toward the left shoulder your right hand over your head and just above your left ear (see below) and laterally flex the neck to the right, gently resist (pull left ear away from right shoulder)—again, be gentle. Do this 3 times on both sides.
For the last stretch, rotate your head to the right and try to look up at the ceiling, place your left hand over your head and just above the right ear (see below) laterally flex the neck to the left, gently resist (pull right ear away from left shoulder)— gently. Do this 3 times on both sides.
There are many self help methods that can help alleviate stiffness & knots in sore areas. A Thera Cane (a self-help tool) is curved, made from fiberglass, and it has several knobs. It’s very easy to use without a lot force to treat trigger points before they become a problem.