The levator scapulae muscle is located at the side and back of the neck. It is one component of the muscular system of the shoulder. Its primary function is to lift the scapula, which is the triangle-shaped bone located at the back of the shoulder that connects the upper arm bone (humerus) with the clavicle (collarbone).

If a person experiences a stiff shoulder or neck, the levator scapulae muscle is often involved. When the shoulder is shrugged, this muscle is at work. When a heavy bag is carried, the levator scapulae muscle helps the body bear the burden.

This muscle begins at the vertebrae just below the skull, called the cervical vertebrae. It is attached to the transverse processes of the cervical vertebrae. (The transverse processes are areas of bone that stick out of the sides of the vertebrae.) The number of attachments to the vertebrae varies. The other end of the muscle is attached to the superior angle of the scapula, the top, inner corner of the scapula. The upper part of the levator scapulae muscle is covered by the sternomastoid muscle, the muscle that rotates and flexes the head.

The blood supply for this muscle comes from the dorsal scapular artery.