Neck Pain – Musculus Levator Scapulae

I have been going to the physiotherapist due to repetetive strain on one partiuclar neck muscle, the m. levator scapulae, on my left side.

Before visiting the physiotherapist I started with some motion training and stretching, which helpt, I then got specific programs which I have been following for two weeks now, and everything seemed to be going well. Before each training session at the gym I warmed up, just like I have mentioned before. I also specifically warmed up my neck to avoid any strain, despite this I managed to strain it during last week’s chest training. I then spent another 10-15 minutes on warming up this particular muscle and the pain/stiffness went away.

I proceeded with my chest day and even broke a new personal record in chest dumbbell press: 62 kg (136.7 lbs), 7 repetitions.

IMG_2953Last night however I woke up with a distinct pain in the cervical spine region, the levator scapulae, the pain and stiffness have been persistent since then. It is time to book a new physiotherapist hour…

Ironically I am currently studying overuse injuries, I guess that is a good thing.

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I have now been training with my new schedule for one cycle – 8 days. It is my normal kind of training schedule with a few changes in my “overall” training.

New Training Schedule

Day 1: Chest + Abdominals + Rotator cuff (85 min)

Day 2: Quadriceps + Hamstrings (90 min)

Day 3: Biceps + Triceps + Forearms (85 min)

Day 4: Rest

Day 5: Front/Lateral/Rear shoulders + Rotator cuff (100 min)

Day 6: Upper/Lower back (90 min)

Day 7: Calves + Rear shoulders + prioritized muscle (Abdominals/Lateral shoulders etc) (60-120 min)

Day 8: Rest


Injuries are something of a nightmare, I have therefore started a little bit more seriously with a few precautions before and after my workouts. Before every workout I warm up, just like I have done before, but a little bit more serious-minded.

I also want to increase my overall mobility – range of motion (ROM), to avoid any unnecessary injuries. 2-3 times a week I perform something called MAQ (Muscle Action Quality), but I only do a few specific programs, which have helped my ROM, especially in my upper body. But it all depends on what programs you are performing, different programs targets different joints/regions.

Lastly, I stretch desired muscle groups thoroughly after each workout, some more than others… Those muscle groups I have the least mobility or most problems with I also stretch at home, such as muscles in the neck region and m. pectoralis major (the large chest muscle).

This morning I trained chest, abdominals and rotator cuffs. I broke my old personal best in the smith bench press. 140 kg (308.6 lbs), 9 repetitions – 19 years old, 114.5 kg (252.4 lbs), 192 cm (6.3 feet).

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Another resting period has flown by.

Getting back to the gym felt very good, especially when I accomplished 12 repetitions with the 52 kg (114.6 lbs) dumbbells, something I have never done before! To my astonishment I weighed in at approximately 114.5 kg (252.4 lbs) today, more than ever before, once again. Carbohydrates and water can quickly vary the weight, but still.


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Dietary Fibers / Roughage & Whole Grain

A lot of individuals wonder what fibers actually are and why they could be beneficial to them and what whole grains are. I will try to answer these questions in this post.


Dietary fibers are nondigestible carbohydrates (due to the fact that they are resistant to hydrolysis, which is a chemical process where molecules are split into two parts through added water). Dietary fibers are therefore carbohydrates that we, humans, can not digest in contrast to ruminants, such as the cow, and we can therefore not extract energy from it… Except for one little fact which I will write about below.

Dietary fibers are often divided into subgroups. Such as fermentable fibers, non fermentable fibers,  (water) soluble fibers, (water) insoluble fibers, gel forming fibers and non gel forming fibers. All these different group of fibers come with  slightly different benefits.

Bacteria in our intestines ferment (splint through an anaerobic process) a particular subgroup of dietary fibers, the fermentable dietary fibers into different substances, such as carbon dioxide, hydrogen gas, hydrogen sulphide, methane, but also short chains of fatty acids such as acetate, propionic acid and butyrate. These fatty acids have some positive effects just like all other dietary fibers, but acetate in particular is the one fatty acid that is most commonly produced and is the only acid which grants us energy, because it reaches the blood circulation. Propionic acid is known to reduce the cholesterol production. Butyrate is the foremost energy source for the intestinal cells, and therefore it stimulates its growth, but it also aid in apoptosis – cell death of cancer cells.

In short: We eat fermentable fibers, bacterias in our intestines splint them into acetate which we can use as an energy source. This is where 2 kilocalories of (fermentable) dietary fibers per gram comes from. 1 gram of fermentable fibers equals 2 kilocalories, or approximately 8.36 kilojoule.

Dietary fibers can be found in pretty much all foods from the vegetable- and plant kingdom – Vegetables, fruits, leguminous plants, grains (particularly whole grains), nuts and so on.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Department of Health and Human Services recommended, in 2005, a daily intake of 28 g for the average adult women and 35 g for adult men depending on daily caloric intake. In Sweden the recommmendation is 25-35 grams per day, pretty much the same.

Dietary fibers, or roughage as it can be called, have a great many benefits. Here are a few:

  • Reduce cholesterol production
  • Some grant energy (through acetate)
  • Lowers the glycemic index (GI)
  • Lowers the pH-value
  • Bind water (Bulk effect)
  • Increase intestine volume (Bulk effect)
  • Reduced risk of constipation (Bulk effect)
  • Reduced risk of diarrhea
  • Reduced risk of cancer, particularly colon cancer
  • Increase saturation (aid in weight loss)
  • Ease the mineral absorption
  • Ease the electrolyte (different ions) absorption
  • Slows down the gastric emptying
  • Ease the water absorption (drink water if you have increased your fiber intake!)
  • Reduced risk of obesity/overweight
  • Reduced risk of heart attack
  • Reduced risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of mental illnesses through avoidance of several diseases (obesity etc)
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • Increases health and function of gastrointestinal system
  • Increases the immune system’s health
  • Keeping the blood sugar levels steady
  • Reduced risk of dental caries
  • Protection against unhealthy substances in our intestines
  • Reduced risk of kidney stones
  • Reduced risk of skin breakouts and rashes
  • etc

Now some bad news, according to a study released in 2009, the average fiber intake for adults and children in the US are less than half of the recommendations. Eat more fibers! Especially considered all the above benefits.

 One last thing I would like to write about is whole grain. I have been asked what the difference between whole grain and dietary fibers are. And the difference is pretty big but still understandably slight.

Now, whole grains are nothing but grains whom still have the endosperm, bran (most fibre-rich) and germ intact. The husk, or shell is pretty much complete. These whole grains often contain high amount of fibers. So, whole grains contain, amongst other things, fibers, and fibers are where all the benefits come from.


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Personal Bests

Last shoulder workout, during seated military press, I put on 100 kg (220.5 lbs) on the barbell for the first time, I achieved just about four repetitions.

Video: Here I press 100 kg (220.5 lbs), for four reps.

And on today’s chest workout I once again managed 6 repetitions with the 62 kg (136.7 lbs) dumbbells, which means that I have onced again progressed in strength. I also weighed 112.8 kg (248.7 lbs), 113.8 kg with clothes, this midmorning – Which is an all time personal weight “record”. But I also managed 110 kg (242.5 lbs) on the bench press, for 8 repetitions after 9 dumbbell sets, which felt pretty good.

Two to three more months of bulking until the “definition” period begins.

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