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- Ella Jolly, Social Worker
New York City

Muscle Monday: Levator Scapula

I’m starting a Muscle Monday series! Each week I’ll be shining a light on a different muscle in the body: Where it is, what it does, and other cool things.

We’ll start off with the Levator Scapula. Is it a shoulder muscle? A neck muscle? It’s both!


The lev scap is a little muscle that runs from the top inside corner of your scapula (“angel wing” bone) up to the side of you neck. As the name implies, it lifts the scapula towards your head. It also helps bring your ear towards your shoulder (lateral flexion) and rotates your head side-to-side (like when you shake your head “no”).

And they can get really CRANKY! Do a lot of desk work? Carry a heavy backpack or purse? Sandwich a phone between your ear and shoulder? This will surely piss off your lev scaps. They are also notorious for working overtime for other muscles that have become weak, such as the lats, lower and middle trapezius muscles, and others. They love to help : )

So, what to do? Release work can help, though aggressive massage directly on the muscle can tend to piss it off more (in my experience). A massage that focuses on balanced release work, gentle stretching, and balancing the surrounding musculature with strengthening exercises can help. Taking breaks from craning your head forward to do computer work or use your smartphone, carrying as little as possible and switching to a good backpack could also help.

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