“So how can I get my levator to stop screaming mutiny, and maybe even be the happy worker bee it was meant to be?” you ask. Well, it may partly depend on why it’s tight. If it’s tight because you’ve been texting all day, with your chin buried in your chest, then the muscles are already overstretched, and stretching and lengthening them even more isn’t the best idea. But rolling, shearing, and lubricating is!

One of my favorite Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball moves for this is Jill’s awesome freeform with Dr. Kelly Starrett (shown in the video clip below) that gets the levator and all its cohorts! If instead, the muscle is tight and actually short from showing off that 20lb Gucci bag, and that shoulder nearly reaches your ear, then lengthening it can be helpful, so turn your  YTU roll-a-thon into a pin-n-stretch fest. Adding some PNF moves to either of these is a dynamite way to interrupt a muscle stuck in a cycle of spasm.

So next time your Levator Scapula is threatening to walk off the job – before you call in the big guns to negotiate a settlement – consider that you may just be asking it to do work it’s barely qualified for. And before it establishes a picket line, see if a visit to the YTU Therapy Ball Spa and Resort might coax it back to its happy place.

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Love seeing this move done outside, and talking about how the different movements of the shoulder, flex/external rotation, extend/internal rotation allow the ball to work into various attachments. And then changing to head movement, active vs passive to get the levator and scalene attachments. Always exciting to see favorite moves from new angles. Thanks!

Charlene Lowe

Thank you for myself and y students. I carry my purse, yoga mat and bags to class everyday all day. Thank you for pointing out that therapy balls are great for both tight and overstretched muscles and tissues.

Jenni Everard

As one who walks or takes public transit everywhere, I am constantly lugging a fully maxed backpack or grocery bags. As much as I try to place my shoulders and neck in the right position, they still find a way to creep and crunch up. Fantastic reminder… this roll sequence will become a daily staple.

Eva Jedlovsky

Will have to try right away! My neck is very tight thanks to all the studying I’ve been doing for the level 1 training this past 2 weeks. Thank you for posting the video. I like how they showed exactly the locations of the muscles and the spot to put your ball onto. Easier than trying to figure it out from a picture in the book.


One of my favorite YTU moves. I do it daily. Thanks for sharing. Mutiny!

Mindy Micheli

“Levity for the Levator Scapula” is a great article/post. The Levator can be so tenaciously difficult to “pin down” and release, on both our client/students, as well as ourselves. This muscle can be so mean! I loved the video, it showed so well the sheer volume of benefit that can be achieved by YTU practice in just a matter of minutes. I have found this particular practice in this specific region of the body to be unparalleled in its’ unfailing ability to down-regulate the nervous system…almost like magic! Such a ‘big-bang-for-the-buck’ use of time and technique. Thank you Lara and… Read more »

martina stürm

i do this one a lot to relieve my right shoulder pain, which radiates uptown downtown all the way to my arm..it does help a lot.


I just tried this at home and my neck feels wonderful. Such a smart solution.

Katy Forline

As a massage therapist I have always been a bit nervous about working the anterior portion of the neck because of the carotids and nerves, but messing around with the YTU ball this way let me play in that area in my own body and get a great confidence for how great it feels and how lovely the release of energy is.

Christine Heroux

I’ve been struggling with a tight levator and tight upper traps for months now. I’ve been regularly rolling out, getting great massages and ART but the relief never lasts. I’d never thought of paying as much attention to the anterior portion of the neck. I’m gonna give that a go…. Thanks!

Pete Shaw

This is a brilliant way to improve overhead positioning. Especially in a gym where pulling is a priority, those areas can get very stiff and the first rib locks into place. Test your overhead position with a barbell before and after this one to see the difference.

Ben Johnson

A lot of folks I encounter are sure they have short traps but often the neck tension they’re experiencing is an unhappy levator scap. This technique is a huge winner for our multiple generations of desk warriors and texters. I loved how you added the internal and external rotation, gonna go try that out now!

Claire Miller Murphy

I teach this ALL the Time. It’s brilliant! Feels great and the results are SUPER obvious when you do one side and then get clients to check in mirror. this is definitely one of my all time faves! i think this is a daily dose rollout!!!

Yvonne Duke

I used this technique last night in my class (I improvised with a block against the wall and the Alpha ball) and at first my students were “ouch” “OMG”, “painful”….then when they realized how amazing the release was, they could both feel and see it in the mirror. they were amazed and quickly went to release the other side. This is something I will use all the time to release the levator scapula. Love the visual too!

Shakti Rowan

I have been trying to figure out the best way to work on this giant knot in my legator scapula! I found a little corner of heaven in my house that works perfectly with a Yoga Tune Up Therapy Ball! Thank you!


As someone with constant tightness in my neck and shoulders from a active lifestyle (and guilty of that 20 lb bag!) I couldn’t be more thankful for this video. The pin and stretch technique helped alleviate the congestion between my neck and shoulders. This is something I need to incorporate into my daily routine.