Today I am anatomy nerding out and connecting our muscular tension to our mental health!
Check it out!
Levator Scapula is the primary shoulder shrugging muscle.
We can consciously use this muscle to shrug our shoulders up, but our bodies also subconsciously respond to stress by lifting our shoulders up towards our ears. The engagement of levator scapula is a common sub-conscious reaction as a self-protective reflex to help protect our cervical spine (your neck). It is a stress posture, sending the message to your body that you are in a state of danger.
In addition to the stress posture, there is often asymmetry in the tension of levator scapula. Any one-sided activity, including using a mouse or carrying purses and bags on one shoulder, can create asymmetry in the levator scapulae. This asymmetry also carries the tension upstream to the other muscles in your neck, like the scalenes. Making your body much more prone to tension headaches and neck pain.
Many/most of us work sitting at a desk and in front of a computer which lends itself to a body position where levator scapula is always turned on. Chronically, and unconsciously, holding this position means that one is chronically and unconsciously putting tension in those muscles.
I know that for most of us, having the option of not working at a desk and computer to maintain our livelihood is not really an option. So I want to be careful here and say that this tension is not something you have complete control over. But while our society continues to work to find better ways to live, I’d like to help you feel better.
And if you suffer from upper back/shoulder/neck tension, addressing the tension and asymmetry in levator scapula, that can manifest from daily stressors, will not only help to relieve this tension, but will also bring a general sense of well-being to your body. Your body will be free to move from more of a self-protective/stress position to a more relaxed position signalling that you are safe, you can relax, and that you can literally breathe more easily.
This is why releasing tension in levator scapula is great self-care, not just for your body, but also for your mind!
If you would like, more resources on releasing the tension in levator scapula I have a Yoga Therapy for your Neck and Shoulder digital download, which will do just that! >>>> Click here to download.
And stay tuned for some more videos on how to release levatorscapula!