The levator scapula muscle starts at the transverse processes of C1-C4 and extends to the scapula, it is responsible in extension of the neck and shoulder shrugs. This muscle is often the source of neck stiffness especially when rotating the head to its limit and postural stress can cause this particular muscle to become hypertonic. It is important to remember that stretching any neck muscle can provide relief from tightness and pain but can also cause pain if done too aggressively. This stretch however is designed to improve head and neck flexion and is done in a safe and pain free manner.
To do this stretch the stretcher lies face up. The partner stands at the head of the stretcher and places their left hand on the stretchers shoulder and their right hand under their head, helping them to flex their head and neck so their chin is touching their chest. From this position rotate the head 45 degrees to the right to fully lengthen the muscle, this is your staring point. From this position direct the stretcher to slowly push their head and neck back towards the corner of the table, remembering to breathe normally, as the partner provides matching resistance. After this the stretcher relaxes and inhales deeply. On the exhale the stretcher should try to flex their head and neck to bring their chin closer to their chest.
Obviously we could not include every stretch required for this sport instead this blog will aim to cover the main stretches used and maybe a few you may not have thought of previously. Please remember to follow the safe stretching tips we have given you in the previous blog as well as the individual safety tips for static and PNF stretching.
Images taken from "Upper Body Stretches" wall chart by B. Walker.