Scalenes are three muscles, the anterior, medius and posterior. They begin at the cervical transverse process, two to seven (C2-C7) and insert onto the first and second rib. These muscles are on the side of the neck.
What do they do?
1. They flex the head laterally (to the side), and also help rotating the head to the opposite side.
2. Help raise the ribs when we breathe in. So they are considered auxiliary respiratory muscles (If you watch sprinters in a race these muscles will be active). On the down side people who breath mainly in the upper chamber of their lungs will usually have tension and pain in the Scalenes.
Why do you need them released?
Pain…. The scalenes are known to be very painful, and seem to be great at radiating the pain to different areas of the body (sneaky!). The pain can be spread to the chest, shoulder, medial border of scapula (runs along the shoulder blade), at the back and sides of arms to the thumb and pointer finger.
Also thrown into the mix the brachial plexus (cluster of nerves that supply the arm hands and fingers) and the subclavian artery (supplies all the blood to the arm) pass between the anterior and medial scalenes so it is not uncommon for these to be irritated or compressed when the muscles are too tight or shortened. So it can create sensations such as; paresthesia (burning or pricking sensation), anesthesia, coldness, claudication (cramping pain) and lymphedema (like I said sneaky).
How do you test for tightness?
Usually your head would be slightly tilted to the same side as restriction. If you laterally flex your neck if movement is restricted to the right then the left scalenes are tight.
If this interests you and you would like to know more, or would like to book an appointment please give Body and Spine Solutions a call on (02) 5310 6259.