What is the Levator Scapula Muscle?:
The levator scapula muscle, aka the levator scap, or just the levator, is the muscle that lifts the shoulder blade up toward the ears. For many of us, it works almost continuously (due to stress, posture etc.), and can become rather sore. Relaxing the levator scapula muscle will allow the shoulders to rest easily and may also reduce this muscle soreness. There are 2 levator scapula muscles, one on either side of the spine.
What Else Does the Levator Scapula Do?:
The levator scapula muscle also plays a role in neck flexibility. If one of the 2 levator scap muscles is working it assists with the bending and rotating of the neck (to the same side on which the muscle is located.) When both levator scapulae are working they help to tilt the head back. The levator scap also helps with another, more subtle movement of the shoulderblade.
Where the Levator Scapula Muscle is Located:
The levator scapula muscle attaches to the first 4 spinal bones (of the neck) on either side at the transverse processes. The levator scap travels down from its origin on the neck vertebra and comes to top inside corner of the bone of the shoulderblade, on the upper back.
Kendall, Florence, McCreary, Elizabeth Kendall, Provance, Patricia Geise. Muscles Testing and Function 4th ed. Williams and Wilkins. Baltimore, Maryland, 1993.