Levator Scapulae Muscle :Why It May Cause Pain Or Discomfort And Tips To Ease Pain

Levator Scapulae Muscle :Why It May Cause Pain Or Discomfort And Tips To Ease Pain

Levator Scapulae Muscle

The Levator scapulae usually called lev scap is a muscle that often causes pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in the upper body. It can create pain and dysfunction associated with the shoulder, but it can also create pain and significant dysfunction associated with the cervical spine (neck area), we often see headaches significantly associated with this muscle.

Frequent symptoms of this muscle include:

-chronic tightness creating a strong pulling sensation, the muscle to become overactivated and shortened

– neck pain which could extend to the head causing a headache  

– pain and restricted range of motion in neck or shoulders

– deep, aching pain

– referring pain in neck and shoulder area

 increase in muscle tone and trigger points

These symptoms effect the scapula’s position and the movements of your cervical spine, this is due to where the muscles attachment sites are as the muscle originates from the cervical spine (neck) and inserts into the medial border of the scapula ( shoulder blade) .

One of the muscles roles is to keep your shoulder blade in an optimal position that supports an upright alignment of your neck and head. Also attempts to avoid postures including forward head posture, which is when your head is in a poor neck posture positioning your head to far forward.

Myofascial trigger points (muscle knot, or a feeling of pain/ restriction in muscle belly) occur frequently in the lev scap muscle. When the trigger points are active this can create stiffness in the neck, and rotation to the same side will be painful due to the muscle contracting.

Common movements/ factors that aggravate and can cause the lev scap discomfort includes:

          Carrying a bag on your shoulder for extended periods

          Sleeping with the muscle in a shortened position / sleeping in awkward straining positions for the neck muscles

          Movements involved in performing a sport

          Continual head/ neck movements at work particularly office workers

          Poor posture

          stress

We see the lev scap muscle being one of the most common muscles that is causing neck and shoulder pain and dysfunction. Getting some treatment on this muscle as well as associated muscles can help reduce the muscular tension/ stress on this muscle and some simple things we can do to stop this muscle from continual discomfort includes :

          Regular stretching and the correct stretches that will stretch the lev scap muscle effectively

          Appropriate strengthening exercises

          Postural correction exercises and awareness

These are simple things we can integrate into our daily life to increase our physical function of our upper body and our niggling neck aches and pains.

 

IS YOUR PILLOW CAUSING YOU HEADACHES?

IS YOUR PILLOW CAUSING YOU HEADACHES?

Are you suffering from restless sleep?  Finding it difficult to fall asleep due to discomfort?  Or are you waking with a headache and stiff neck that stays with you all day?

 

Then maybe it’s time for a new pillow!

 

Just like proper footwear is a recommendation to correct incorrect ankle and lower limb alignment, correct pillows and pillow height are necessary to assist in decreasing/managing neck and shoulder pain or stiffness.

 

I personally have found that when a patient is experiencing pain or discomfort when they wake up – particularly the upper body region- how they are positioned during their sleep is a major contributor.

 

When we lie down to sleep the one thing we look for is what’s called a neutral spine.  Your pillow and mattress are vital in achieving this, but let’s concentrate on the Pillow for now.

 

Here’s a quick tip!

 

When lying on your pillow in any which way, you don’t want the pillow to be too high that it causes your neck to be on stretch (which can sometimes be excessive) and alternatively, you don’t want the pillow to be too low either.  Too low causes one side of the neck region to “squash” and also our shoulder will roll in (which is another kettle of fish altogether for another blog).  Some people will also find the need to ‘bunch up’ their pillow underneath them to create more height and end up sleeping with their arm or hand underneath their head.  This is where symptoms start to creep down to the arm and hands.

Now if you’re sitting there nodding your head and thinking to yourself, yes that’s me!  It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a brand new expensive pillow, the pillow you have may be right but your posture may just need fine tuning.  However, having a pillow at the correct height can take all the hard work out of retraining the posture.

 

Not sure where to start with your pillow?

Fear not!  The practitioners at MyoSports offer a complimentary pillow assessment to help check over the pillow you have and also point you in the right direction with options that may be more suited for you and achieve that neutral spine.

 

Don’t suffer one more night of restless sleep, let us know how we can help you get the sleep you’ve been searching for.

Kayaking for your health

Kayaking for your health

With lock down of the gyms making it harder to exercise and running being a high impact sport, cycling can be the obvious answer for getting in that cardiovascular exercise, but some people aren’t keen to be out on the roads riding near cars, so another option is kayaking!

Kayaking improves your cardio fitness and is a great strength exercise for arms, shoulders, back and core. With proper technique, kayaking even works leg muscles through leg drive by rotation of the trunk, applying pressure with the feet off the kick board. Your core muscles -also known as your abs- are in constant use while you’re kayaking, helping balance the kayak upright and this is why kayaking is one of the best exercises to strengthen your abs. 

Like any physical activity, kayaking helps with weight loss and once you’re on the water it won’t feel like exercise as you’re cruising through the water reducing your stress levels! Using your muscles to cut through the water out in nature is a very rewarding experience and after a few hours each week, you’ll quickly notice a drop in your stress levels.

Kayaking is easy to pick up, with the right type of kayak for your level of experience, you can jump straight into the sport. All you need is a kayak, a paddle and a life jacket to enjoy some great impact free exercise!

Elbow Pain: 2 Common Conditions and How to fix them

Elbow Pain: 2 Common Conditions and How to fix them

Elbow Pain: 2 Common Conditions and How to fix them

Are you a tradie on the good old shovel all day long or forever carrying heavy objects and doing repetitive jobs onsite? Maybe you’re a keen golfer and play most weeks, maybe more at the moment being limited to this during Iso? Or maybe you’re a keyboard warrior and have increased this lately due to iso as well?  Whatever your job description, all of the above can cause some seriously sore elbows! There are two common conditions of the elbow that occur due to repetitive strain, these being tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow.

Tennis Elbow vs. Golfer’s Elbow

Probably more common than Golfer’s elbow- tennis elbow, despite the name it is not often caused by tennis these days. It is a condition of the tendon on the outside of the elbow, technically called lateral tendinopathy or lateral tendinitis. Lateral just means to the outer side and tendinopathy is a condition or pathology of the tendon. The tendon becomes inflamed and will be called tendonitis, or longer standing pain where the fibres start to become damaged is called tendinosis. The common wrist extensor muscles attach to this tendon, so bending the wrist up towards yourself if the palm is facing the floor, is the main action here. Small intricate movements of the fingers are also part of these muscles action. The pain is usually found on the top of the elbow on the bony part, called the lateral epicondyle of the humerus, which you can feel sitting just underneath the skin. It may travel down into the forearm, even sometimes right to the wrist and less commonly to the fingers. It can be present when trying to grip, twist and lift things often causing weakness.

Golfer’s elbow is the same, just on the inner side of the elbow- technically called medial tendinopathy or tendinitis. The common wrist flexor muscles attach to this tendon, their action is bending the wrist to the floor if the palm was facing the floor. Small intricate movements of the fingers are also part of these muscles action. The pain is similar to tennis elbow just on the opposite side of the arm- usually over that bony prominence on the inside and can travel down into the under side of the forearm. It can be present when trying to grip, twist and lift things often causing weakness also, as well as numbness & tingling occasionally into the ring and little fingers.

Tennis Elbow Causes

Repetitive strain is the answer. For tennis elbow it is usually the repetitive use of a keyboard most often for the office worker, the repetitive use of tools and lifting, shovelling, gripping and twisting for the tradie and for the tennis player, well it is the repetitive shock travelling through the arm when a tennis ball is struck while gripping onto that racket. Alas, these are not the only occupations or activities to cause tennis elbow.

Golfer’s elbow is usually caused by you guessed it, GOLF! Also repetitive gripping, twisting and shock that is transferred into the arm, it is much like it’s counterpart, tennis elbow. Tennis elbow tends to be a bit more common than golfer’s elbow.

So how do we resolve it you ask? REST my friends, rest. Most of us just can’t stop what we are doing and go on a nice holiday to relax (especially not right now) so there are other things we can do. Try to offload the arm and rest it where practical for you. This means maybe delegating some of the jobs you really struggle to do because the pain is so bad, if you can. Otherwise taking regular breaks and stretching out the muscles of the forearm where you can. Heat and ice can prove very handy over where the tendon attaches to the bone. A brace is often helpful in the beginning to assist with reducing pain.

These conditions are often stubborn and usually related to your line of work, meaning they take a fair amount of time and effort to get on top of. They usually require expert help to get on top of the pain in the beginning and form a rehab plan to get you back on track. Here at MyoSports we treat these conditions all the time, so if this sounds like you, pop on in to get you back to work and doing what you enjoy as fast as possible.

Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture

Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture

Difference Between Dry Needling and Acupuncture

There is often a lot of questions and confusion about the differences between dry needling and acupuncture. Dry needling is an evidence-based technique applied by physical therapists that releases myofascial trigger points and muscular tightness. Dry needling is similar regarding the needle is inserted into the skin to alleviate pain. However, acupuncture treats for the purpose of altering the flow of Qi (Energy) along traditional Chinese meridians. Physical therapists use dry needling with the purposes of addressing neuromuscular conditions, the relief of pain/ muscular tightness, and improving range of motion.

What is a myofascial trigger point?

A myofascial trigger point also known as a knot within the muscle is a bundle of muscle fibres that have shortened when activated but have not been able to lengthen back to a relaxed state after use. (Simons, Travell & Simons, 1999).

What causes these myofascial trigger points?

Injury (muscles will tighten attempting to reduce severity of injuries)

Unexpected movements of the body

Quick movements

Change in regular exercise routine (an increase or decrease in regular physical activity)

Sustained postures (extended sitting for study or work)

Impingement of nerves (muscles will tighten attempting to protect the nerve)

Stress

Nutritional deficiencies (such as magnesium)

(Simons, et al., 1999)

How does Dry needling work?

Single use sterile filament needles (acupuncture needles) are inserted into the trigger point that causes a neurological response within the muscle fibres. This reaction allows the muscle to release and relax which helps reduce pain and encouraging and improving the recovery process.

Dry needling can help treat:

Headaches in relation to muscular tension

Tendinopathy including hamstring tendinopathy, Achilles, or tennis elbow

Sciatica and gluteal pain

General muscular tightness/tension

Lower back pain

Neck pain

Post-surgery

Sporting injuries

 

 

Benefits Of Foam Rolling.

Benefits Of Foam Rolling.

Benefits Of Foam Rolling.

With the recent increase of people running and walking, it is important to make sure your body is ready to hit the paths and a simple way to avoid injury is a quick foam roll session.

Many elite athletes get regular remedial massages in order to stimulate the blood supply, mobilise joints and stabilise and sooth their muscles. While nothing can replicate a good massage you can still enjoy many of these benefits using a foam roller.


Running and walking is a highly repetitive movement, you’re
typically over using some muscles and under using other muscles.

A few minutes using the foam roller before and after each
workout can help keep your muscles flexible and ready to perform. 

Before exercising, similar to remedial massage, foam rolling can increase range of motion, tissue elasticity and blood flow circulation helping you to perform better during your workout and help to avoid injury. Following your workout, a quick foam roll will help to stimulate blood flow that increases oxygen to sore muscle fibres which reduces recovery time.

The Lock down Guide on How to Set up Your Office or Home Schooling Space

The Lock down Guide on How to Set up Your Office or Home Schooling Space

So the inevitable has occurred and here we are, heading back into lockdown 2.0, which for many of us here in Mildura, we are returning home to work if we can and the students of Victoria also. The first time around may have brought about many aches and pains, particularly of the neck, shoulders and mid-back, due to a bit of an unideal set up, combined with the extra stress levels that might have also been brought about for some. Sound familiar?

 Here are some tips and tricks to ensure that you don’t end up with a desk related injury from having to move your office and your kids schooling home.

Stand up Desk- If you have the option to- ask your boss to take the stand up desk home (if this is the small, portable kind). Alternatively, if you want one anyway and can afford to – the likes of Officeworks stock these. This will allow you to change your positioning as needed and help prevent the aches and pains that may result from sitting for too long. The human body is designed to change positions often and generally, most of us are better off standing up, as it is more natural to the body. The idea of a sit to stand desk, is that you change the positioning of it when you feel you notice your posture becoming “lazy”. By this I mean you feel yourself starting to slump in your chair or when standing, you start leaning into one hip for example. If this is not a convenient solution, move the desk up and down every hour or so to ensure the body is getting the best of both.

Computer positioning and desk set up– If the sit to stand desk is not an option, you need to ensure you have your laptop/ computer screen at eye level where possible and directly in front of you. This means the top of the screen should be in line with your eyes. Use whatever you have around the house, some old thick books (old textbooks, encyclopedia’s etc) or a box, a small filing system/document holder that might sit on top of your desk, are all great to prop that screen up to eye level. This prevents any head tilt that can cause neck pain. If you find you are straining your neck forwards to see the screen- zoom in on the screen where possible or bring the whole lot closer to you. If working from a laptop and the keyboard is the issue, you can purchase for a reasonable price a separate keyboard from any office stationary shops (most of them anyway). They are worth the investment! If you cannot do this- tilt the laptop screen to the best position for your eyes to minimise the neck strain. Multiple screens make the situation that bit more tricky- the suggestion here is to ensure that you put the one you use the most directly in front of you and the second screen along side it. If you go between the two all the time, put them side by side and when you can, shift your whole body to face the screen you are focusing on at the time- this also prevents neck issues.

Keyboard alignment- If your keyboard is separate to your screen it should be directly in line with the screen if possible.  The letter “H” is around the centre point, use this as your marker and align this with the centre of your screen. If you predominantly use the numbers, position this side of the board more to the centre and move across accordingly.

Phone alignment- In this day and age, most of us are using mobiles for work, particularly if co-workers or clients/patients etc are needing to be contacted. If this is the case and you are on the phone a lot, this can cause us to tilt the head to the side that we answer the phone on, particularly if we are trying to multi-task (often using the computer). This slight head tilt, repeated over and over will cause muscle tension of that same side (most often) and can build up to niggles and sometimes quite debilitating pain. The solution- a head set if possible. Otherwise if this is not available, try to keep the head neutral whilst on the phone and prevent the strain on the neck.

Desk seating-  If you can, a desk chair that swivels, lifts up and down, tilts forwards and back and has wheels is the ideal chair to work from. This is to ensure that you are up high enough to let the arms rest on the desk at approximately 90 degrees, the back should also be around 90 degrees with the legs, and feet flat on the floor. This prevents neck and back strain and ensures that the hips stay aligned with the knees. If the desk is too high and the feet cannot touch the floor, that is okay- adjust the best you can. Foot stools can also be used to address this issue. If the knees are elevated above hip level (usually the chair is too low in this position) this will likely cause hip flexor, quad and glute muscle issues. Bring the chair up to ensure the correct positioning.

Take regular breaks where possible! This is the best thing to do- to change your position up, reduce stress and get some movement into the body (as well as keeping our sanity).

At the end of the day, stretch, do some foam rolling and use the spikey ball through the neck, shoulders, hips and back if you have those at home, to help reduce any built up tension which will also help reducing stress levels at the same time- Win, Win!

If there are niggles that are persisting, that you want addressed before they become quite debilitating or if this is already the case, pop on in to your desired therapist to assist you with these, you can have a chat with them about your desk ergonomics, as well as give you a plan to help minimise pain in the future!

Image source: https://healthandbalance.com.au/workstation-desk-posture-ergonomics/

Redesigning your work-space to alleviate back and neck tension

Redesigning your work-space to alleviate back and neck tension

Working from a desk is an extremely common cause of neck and back pain, often because you adapt to your workstation rather it adapting to you. Signs of this may include, the computer monitor being too far away, too close, too dim. This takes away having ‘good posture’. An average human head weighs just about the amount of a standard bowling ball! When your neck is bent, the head exerts a lot of pressure on the neck. Imagine the strain it is having on you! This then can lead to headaches, joint strains and even possible breathing restraints. This is why redesigning your work-space to adapt to you is necessary. There are many ways to alleviate these problems such as;

Have you got the correct chair?

  • Making sure your chair is at the correct height for you is important, it is better to have a slight recline in your posture instead of being at a 90 degree angle. 
  • Your feet should touch the ground fully.
  • Sometimes putting a small pillow at the bottom of your chair helps you keep your posture correct instead of curving the spine (in other words, hunching over)

Is your desk at a correct height?

  • Adjust your desk correctly or even your chair, so your arms are not pointing upward, rather slightly downward, so that there is no bend in the wrist.

Is your computer at the correct height, distance and lighting suited to you?

  • Adjust your computer screen so that your eyes are at level with the screen,
  • Move the screen towards you or further away so that it is easier to read the screen.
  • Increase the font size perhaps, so you are not leaning in, or squinting at the screen.

Another really positive idea to add to your work environment is setting a timer for every 30 minutes, to stand up and take a walk around the office, do a few little stretches, or even physically deliver a message, rather than email (if it isn’t too important). Some offices have also implemented standing workstations which has been proved to be very beneficial, so perhaps it is something you could suggest at your next meeting.

Bringing these ideas into consideration may help you in the future and relieve a lot of your common issues. 

Spring time Sports Transition

Spring time Sports Transition

Spring has well and truly sprung and we are heading into the warmer weather now- goodbye winter!

This time of year sees many people coming out of winter hibernation looking to get out in the sunshine to get their bodies moving and for many getting their “summer body” ready. With this sudden spike in activity for those who don’t do a whole lot over the winter period, it can bring on overuse injuries- that good old saying “too much too soon” couldn’t be more accurate. So here’s some tips and things to remember: 

  • Whatever exercise you are re-starting or starting, introduce yourself to it slowly! This can mean a number of things depending on what suits you- your variables being the number of sessions per week, the length of your sessions/activity and your intensity level during these sessions.  We would recommend you do any of the following: start with less sessions (aim to start with around 2-3 per week for approximately 2-3 weeks and then increase gradually if desired, depending on your fitness levels). If that is not enough, reduce your timeframe to again suit your fitness levels (instead of an hour 2-3 x weekly, do 30 mins 4-5 x weekly). Finally, the intensity- this is a harder variable to manage and you tend to find this can be easily overdone in the beginning until your body awareness of your fitness levels develops more. Start slightly lower and build on this- if you do personal training for example, your trainer will be able to monitor you as you go. You might be able to increase your intensity earlier if you are doing less sessions per week as your body will have time to recover between them if they are not performed on consecutive days.  Going hammer and tong first session sounds great in theory but for some, this can leave you feeling very stiff and sore the next day/s potentially reducing your ability to perform for your next workout and the effects can snowball- but recovery can really offset this. 
  • Recovery is one of the most underrated aspects of exercise and the part many of us neglect- it can seem like a chore to many at times but please don’t neglect it as it can most certainly be the difference between you becoming injured or not and even if no injuries occur, it can be the difference between your performance levels from one day to the next. In a competition setting, this can be the difference between you winning or not, if this is your goal. Recovery can be done in so many different ways- the most common recovery option tends to be stretches. While the evidence does not necessarily support stretches right after exercise- this is probably going to be the best time because A- you are already warm and just completed exercise and B- if you do not make time post- exercise you are not likely to make time later (which you should definitely be doing both of these things).  Stretches are not your only option- recovery can include therapeutic aids such as a foam roller, spikey balls, heat and or ice depending on your preference, compression pants and any kind of therapy such as massage, myo or your preferred choice of treatment. As we know, strength comes in numbers and the body loves variety (it literally thrives/lives for it) so the more you can change up your recovery and incorporate different methods- the better off you will be long term. A win win situation and you won’t get bored doing the same thing over and over again.

The team at myosports are here to help you in any way we can from a musculoskeletal perspective – anyone who is willing to be proactive about their health is welcome so if you have any questions about anything mentioned call the clinic to book yourself an appointment to find out just how far you can go this spring or to help get that summer body in shape 😊 

Myofascial Benefits of Foam Rolling

Myofascial Benefits of Foam Rolling

Whether you are an active gym goer or office worker, foam rolling is an amazing form of self-massage with many myofascial benefits.

But what is Myofascia?

“Myo” meaning muscles and “fascia” meaning the connective web-like tissue that surrounds and penetrates all our muscles – it also coats every bone and covers every organ and envelopes every nerve in the body! Fascia is what keeps everything separate yet interconnected at the same time. By using a foam roller, you can stretch, massage and even rehydrate the underlying muscles and fascia. Over time this may reduce fascial adhesions (dense areas of fascia or scar tissue that may be restricting movement) and retention the fascia and muscle into more optimal length and position.

Some further benefits you may experience with foam rolling:

  • Improved range of motion (ROM) – foam rolling may ease tissue tension and muscle tightness to increase joint ROM. Foam roll any restricted area on your own body and test it for yourself, you might be surprised with the results!
  • Improved circulation – myofascial release may help improve circulation by breaking up tight areas or fascial adhesions where blood flow has become restricted.
  • Relief from stress and fatigue –foam rolling may create a deep sense of relaxation. Try the beginner foam rolling routine below before bed with no interruptions and notice how you feel at the end of the routine.
  • Faster recovery time – we now know the benefits of foam rolling before exercise but doing it after may also help reduce muscle soreness and the new collagen from forming fascial adhesions between the layers. Again, the beginner routine below will be well suited to this as well.
  • Free massage for the rest of your life! It’s an inexpensive option and gives you the benefit of taking your health & wellbeing into your own hands.

Basic Foam rolling routine

  1. Calves
  2. Hamstrings
  3. Lateral borders of IT band – rather than rolling directly on your IT band you will find more benefit in rolling the lateral borders of the IT band.
  4. Gluteal muscles
  5. Adductors (inner thighs)
  6. Quads
  7. Upper back

Tips for success

  • Perform slow rolling movements to relax, release or rehydrate your muscle and fascial tissues
  • Roll for the amount of time your body requires
  • Roll daily or every second day, just avoid any areas that feel bruised
  • Avoid directly rolling on your lower back.
  • Avoid any areas that cause numbness, pins and needles or have a pulse.

If you have any injuries or medical conditions however, please only use as directed by your health care practitioner as the roller may not be suitable for use for the injury or condition that you may have.