The levator scapulae


The levator scapulae belongs to the skeletal muscles of the back. It goes from the transverse processes of the first four cervical vertebra down to the inside of the shoulder blade. Insertions are the inner edge of the shoulder blade (Margo medialis) and the upper shoulder blade angle (Angulus superior scapulae).

Its name reveals already its main function: levator from Latin levare = lift and scapula = shoulder blade. Due to its course, the muscle can lift the shoulder blade (return the lifted arm into starting position) as well as turn and bend the head to the side. By its function, the levator scapulae supports the trapezius muscle, the rhomboid muscles, and the sternocleidomastoid muscle.


Major parts of the levator scapulae are covered by other muscles (sternocleidomastoid muscle and the trapezius muscle). It is just the middle part in the zone of the regio cervicalis lateralis (cervical triangle) which is not covered. Here, the muscle can be best felt.

The levator scapulae belongs to the muscles, which are often affected by tensions, stiffening and even by chronic pain due to daily false postures. Causes are, among others, wearing heavy shoulder bags, permanent lifting of shoulders on the desk, and sleeping on the side without head support.



M. levator scapulae



Transverse processes of 1st to 4th cervical vertebra


Medial edge of the shoulder blade (margo medialis) and the shoulder blade angle (angulus superior)


Raising the shoulder blade, turning and bending head and neck




Exercise examples






Course of motion
  • Chin-up bar hangs horizontally

  • Hands in upper grip (thumbs show to each other) and a bit more than shoulder-width apart

  • Legs hang loosely downwards or are crossed in the back
  • Light knee bending is possible

  • Pull body slowly and in a controlled way upwards

  • Near the chest/collarbone to the bar

  • Bend the torso slightly backwards



  • Exhale while raising the body

  • Inhale while lowering the body


Advices of proof:

  • Mind the speed of exercise (not too fast !)
  • Avoid distance of motion too short
  • Do not take a swing
  • Avoid grip too wide open
  • Do not stretch completely the arms while lowering the body
  • Tip: training gloves for protecting hands and bar



  • Behind the neck
  • In under grip (thumbs show outwards)
  • On the lower bar (feet are supported)
  • For advanced users: use an additional weight, i.e., a weighted vest

Shoulder raise



Course of motion:

  • Stand with legs slightly straddled
  • Torso is upright and fixed
  • Hold the bar in upper grip in front of the thighs
  • Raise the shoulders on the longest possible distance of motion
  • Hold the weight for a short time
  • Lower shoulders then



  • Exhale while moving upwards
  • Inhale while moving downwards


Advices of proof:

  • Complete accomplishment of the distance of motion
  • Training weight corresponds to fitness level
  • Avoid rotating in shoulders
  • Avoid bending elbows



  • Motion behind the body
  • Stretch arms forwards
  • With one hand
  • With barbell or dumbbell

The dosed strengthening of the M. levator scapulae has a preventive effect against neck pain. False postures for daily motions are better compensated.
Create a varied and effective workout for strengthening the M. levator scapulae by means of different training equipment. Use the following training accessories



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