This is one of my 3 favourite muscle names in the body – it’s in your neck and it’s called the platysma!
First of all, what is the platysma? It is a muscle that begins at the jawline, right at the mandible, and runs down in a fan shape to the superior portion of the clavicle. It is responsible for helping the mouth and lips to move. Specifically, it is the muscle that we use when we react with fear or fright – when our mouth is drawn down or to the side.
Many therapists miss out on getting the best outcomes because they overlook this little muscle. In fact, did you know that a lot of neck-related pain can be traced to the platysma? As therapists, 75% of people entering our clinic complain of either neck or lower back pain! If you are focusing your techniques at the back, which is quite often joint-related or soft tissue around the traps, splenius, etc, then can I ask you to try this simple technique on your next neck pain client?
I could go as far as to say unless we address the tightness in the platysma. We won’t get full neck movement.
Your First Moves
First, you must assess your client’s neck range. From a relaxed, sitting position, have your client lookup or go into full neck extension. Watch and be vigilant on the lift to note any tightness of the anterior neck esp the flat band of the platysma. Have your clients return to neutral or as neutral as they can. This video will show you step by step how I teach the muscle and surrounding soft tissue via way of an active glide. This way both of you are working together. Plus, they are increasing their afferent and efferent nervous system. They will also increase their agonists and antagonists, and myofascial trains.
For therapists out there, when we do active movements, it means that both you and your client or patients are actually actively involved in the process.
1. Stand on the treating side, in this case, stand on the right and have the client turn their head to the right, as far as they can go comfortably.
2. Place two fingers or knuckles. If you have OA issues just above their right clavicle at the midline closest to the supraclavicular notch and sink into the tissues. The fingers will be facing out towards the AC joint on the superior line of the clavicle so that you can take up the tissue along with its attachments.
3. Have your client slowly rotate their head back towards the left as far as they can go comfortably.
4. As they move their head allow your fingers to glide along with their muscle. Work with a pace that mimics the speed of the rotation and at the tension of the hypertonic muscle/fascia.
5. I always apply any technique three times before I re-assess. NB* make sure you DO re-assess!
6. Repeat the same process on the other side.
As you’re doing this, it should feel “tight” and “stretchy” or “burny” to your clients – all signs of fascia, muscle, and/or tendon. Have your clients test their range again, by moving their heads up, down, and side to side. The results can be astronomical in pain management, posture, and range. You should be able to see the tissues are not as taut as this time around.
The beauty of this work is that you can offer it to clients as homecare. This is an attempt to release any ongoing restrictions felt in the neck. This is another cool technique that adds value along with the other ways to assist in neck pain that we’ve discussed in earlier videos.
Have fun and hope this helps you and your clients in the future!