Stretching Series: Serratus Anterior

Serratus Anterior Photo Credit – Anatomography
Stretching the Serratus Anterior effectively can be a difficult task, especially if a client has limited mobility or pain in the shoulder. Many stretching tutorials will have the patient raise the arm over the head and lean laterally in order to lengthen the muscle. While this does partially stretch the muscle, it can be difficult for some to extend the arm over the head. Also, this motion does not stretch serratus anterior optimally. If we look at the action of the muscle, aka scapular protraction, a part of the movement we need to incorporate to gain the most lengthening is scapular retraction; not flexion of the shoulder. By doing retraction, we will greatly intensify the stretch and create much more mobility. 

The key when stretching the Serratus Anterior effectively is to use multiple movements to achieve optimal lengthening. First, we will use medial scapular translation in order to retract the scapula and move the insertion of the muscle. Then we will use the movement of the rib cage to move the origin of the muscle, optimizing the lengthening.

The Stretch

  • Start with our body standing at a slight angle away from a wall with the side being stretched nearest the wall. 
  • Place your same-sided foot in front of you and opposite foot behind for a strong stance. Place your palm as an anchor on the posterior of the ilium creating a wing shape with your arm.

Continue reading “Stretching Series: Serratus Anterior”

Breathing, It’s Not Just Air

Diaphragm
Diaphragm

 

Most of us take something as common as breathing for granted. It’s a bodily function which occurs thousands of times per day. On average, an adult breaths between 17,000 and 23,000 times per day. That is a lot of activity that we are unaware of. Rarely do we think about it, unless we are exercising and feel like passing out after running a mile (my current pitiful fitness level). All of the sudden, this minor part of our everyday life becomes a very important thing and we have a hard time NOT focusing on it…I hate running. Continue reading “Breathing, It’s Not Just Air”

Sternocleidomastoid And Chronic Headaches

Sternocleidomastoid
Sternocleidomastoid

Maybe one of the most common conditions I have treated throughout my career has been headaches and migraines. I am not talking just simple once-in-a-while stress headaches (even though those do benefit from massage as well), but chronic, ongoing, life-disrupting headaches and migraines. I have had many clients who come in for their first session who suffer frequently (if not daily) from chronic headaches who have tried many different options for treatment, including strong medications to alleviate their pain, with no positive results. Unfortunately,  it often seems like finding a cure for chronic headaches and migraines is like taking a stab in the dark, hoping to find a cure. Continue reading “Sternocleidomastoid And Chronic Headaches”

Stretching Series: Longus Colli

Longus Colli

Whenever you have any sort of upper cross syndrome or forward head posture, longus colli is going to be tight. Maybe more importantly though, is how involved this muscle can be with disc injuries (along with scalenes and sternocleidomastoid). By stretching this muscle correctly we can aid in chronic posture issues as well as potentially aid in disc injury symptoms. (to learn more about disc injuries, read Massage Therapy for Disc Injuries)

The keys to stretching this muscle are more in the form that we use than the complexity of motion. Continue reading “Stretching Series: Longus Colli”

Stetching Series: Levator Scapulae

 

Levator Scapulae
Levator Scapulae

Levator Scapulae is one of those muscles that can be over worked and become hypertonic when posture or stress is an issue. Its function is to elevate the scapula which (along with trapezius) can become over active and create soreness and pain in the cervicothoracic junction. Obvious a great one to stretch for maintenance of neck and shoulder discomfort.

The key to stretching this muscle is involving the scapula’s ability to rotate  with shoulder movement. Continue reading “Stetching Series: Levator Scapulae”

Stretching Series: Sternocleidomastoid

Sternocleidomastoid

This muscle is one of those which is probably either on your top 5 treatment list or on your “I hate this muscle” treatment list. Either way, it is very important clinically to know how to stretch this muscle. It is involved in many conditions including upper cross syndrome, forward head posture, disc injuries, and, last but not least, headaches and migraines. Also, because of its unique anatomy, it has the capability limiting multiple motions of the neck which can limit the general mobility of the cervical spine.   If we can learn to stretch this muscle we can help fight all of these conditions. Continue reading “Stretching Series: Sternocleidomastoid”