So many people hold tension in their shoulders, and they can often feel like it is pulling up into the neck.  Sometimes it comes from the Upper Trapezius muscles that attach the shoulder girdle to the spine and the back of the skull, but it can also come from a muscle called the Levator Scapula.  I went through a stretch for the Upper Traps, and now it’s the turn for the Levator Scapula

Levator Scapula means the lifter of the shoulder blade, as that is considered what it should do in a strictly anatomical sense, but as we often have our head hanging forward it can start to also hold the head up from crashing into the chest.  The muscle connects the top middle point of the shoulder blade to the neck and is what we use to shrug.  Like the Upper traps we also use the Levator Scapula (Lev Scaps) when startled as we lift the shoulders up to protect the neck, and then again we often don’t like to let them lengthen again as it can be a bit uncomfortable.  Unlike the Upper traps we might not realise that these muscles exist and might not be sure how to stretch them. There will be another post to show a more complex stretch for these muscles, but this is definitely the easiest to do.

Please note: If this stretch creates pain, or makes pain worse, please stop the stretch and come out of it. Please seek advice on what is happening.


None required


  1. Start off sitting upright.
  2. Find a way to stabilise the shoulder blade of the side of the neck you’re going to stretch.  I reach behind me and hold the upper arm with my other hand, but that is comfortable for me.  If that isn’t possible for you, then hold a heavy weight in the hand of the side you’re stretching, or hold the chair, or sit on your hand.  You just want to stop the shoulder travelling with the head as you apply the stretch.
  3. Rotate the head about 45 degrees away from the stabilised shoulder.
  4. Move the nose towards the arm pit, which is a bit like trying to sniff your arm pit.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds.
  6. Ease off the stabilisation before bringing your head back up.

NB.  If this stretch creates pain, or makes pain worse, please stop the stretch and come out of it. Please seek advice on what is happening.


This is a simple and easy stretch, and if the head is ok, then you can place the hand on the top of your head to add that weight to the stretch, but make sure the shoulder is not travelling up too much.

This is a stretch that I often jokingly called the sniff test, as it’s an easy way to remember the action: do my armpits smell?  There is a slightly more complex one that I’ll go into in another post.


Here’s a short video of me running through the basic exercise.

Thanks for reading this my lovely Interonauts.