A Scap-Off Load is a special test or functional test that we use to evaluate the implication of Lev Scapular and Up. Trap in Cercival Rotation.
As previously mentioned, in cervical rotation, we got a fair bit of muscle working towards this action.
As many clients come in with cervical pain, it’s time to explain in more detail what’s going on there.
Cervical Rotation. How does it happen?
So, when we rotate our head, either right or left, the muscle on the same side of the rotation movement is contracting.
If a muscle along those is weak, we may reproduce pain in rotation along the same side.
To thin down which muscle is responsible for the limited ROM, we have to safely deactivate some of them to see if the left behind one can deliver the expected movement.
Here is an example of how scap offload works.
If a client comes in with 30° Cervical rotation on the R and pain on top of the scapula, that could be an indication that its levator scapulae is the muscle to target.
To confirm this hypothesis, I would ask the client to shrug their shoulders and flex their elbow (the client is sitting on a stool).
After that, I will make my way behind the client, and I will support their shoulder weight with my forearm and hands.
As the client relieves the shoulder tension, that lev scapulae and up. Traps. are now deactivated.
The next thing would be to ask the client to perform the cervical rotation.
Ideally, I would like to see the client have a full range of motion (80° to 90°).
If this post talks to you, book your next massage session by clicking here.
That would tell me that the only muscles that are limiting the cervical rotation are the lev scap. and up trap.
On the other hand, what could happen, is that the cervical rotation is, yes improved, but still limited, compared to the ROM expected.
In this case, the muscles involved in the stiff range of motions are not only lev scap. and or upper trap.
In fact, what is causing the limitation is the cervical occipital muscles.
And yes, spending long hours at the computer or looking at the phone doesn’t help.
After this test, to narrow down even more which other muscles are involved in the stiffness of the cervical area, I do run another series of tests.
Those tests would look into joint areas like C0-C1, which would refer to Obliquus Capitis Superior muscle, and the C1-C2 test, which would look at tension for Obliquus Capitis Inferior.
Furthermore, for the other facet joints that make up the lower cervical region (C3 to C8), I would analyze each facet joint individually.
These series of tests are indeed part of my Myotherapy training.
Last would be then the usage of the joint mobilisation technique. In this case, we would look into what joint has lost mobility or which one has an excess of it.
Strengthening the cervical.
In order to improve the presentation, massage on its own is not enough.
As per any condition so far, the strengthening of the muscle, in this case, the cervical and upper thoracic one, would allow to prevent further pain and discomfort.
The work that the cervical muscle has to do daily is considerably high, giving the natural weight of the skull. So exercising a chin tag in a supine position can help.
Ideally, we would do these exercises in the supine position (lying down face up) so that we have gravity to fight back as we train our deep flexors.
To further improve the strengthening, once the chin tag is not enough, we can start using a soft rubber band to create resistance.
Said so, be mindful that the cervical area is a delicate area to work on too, and those exercises are best practice under the supervision of an expert trainer or massage therapist.