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Scalenes: the psoas of the neck?

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

I’ve had an article on about the “weird” scalene muscle group for many, many years. I added these thoughts to that article just a couple days ago …

Is the clinical importance of scalenes exaggerated? Some muscles in the human body are put on a weird pedestal by many massage therapists, made into the scapegoat for an unrealistic number of ailments. The canonical example of muscle mystique is the psoas muscle, a big muscle buried deep in the pelvis and abdomen … but the scalenes are probably the other main example.

Psoas hype is just silly — there’s almost nothing to it, and it’s deliberately missing from my “Perfect Spots” series. But the kernel of truth in scalenes hype is more substantive. Yes, the importance of scalenes is exaggerated by many professionals … but there’s a little more rational justification for it than there is with psoas.

In short, scalenes are indeed over-hyped … but not nearly as badly as psoas, and they actually are clinically interesting in my opinion.