The sternocleidomastoid. What is this muscle? Why does it matter?

The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) attaches up at the mastoid process (behind the ear) immediately below the skull and stretches down to the sternum (chest bone) and clavicle (collar bone). The SCM’s actions are crucial for a healthy cervical spine, but the unfortunate reality of everyday society is that we place these muscles in a jeopardized position. Throughout the day, activities like texting or sitting at your 9-5 job cause these muscles to shorten and create other compensations. If left unchecked, the SCM can actually cause nausea and tinnitus (ear ringing) as it has implications on the alignment of the spine.

Another unique characteristic of this muscle is its pain referral. When the SCM is in a compromised position, it has the potential to send a dull, headache-like sensation to the back of the eyes and eyebrows.

Care for this muscle is absolutely crucial to your wellbeing as we move forward into this wonderful technological era.

When stretching, NEVER go to the point of pain, simply reach the threshold of a gentle pull on the muscle.peter1

peter2ALWAYS warm the neck up with gentle circles while turning your gaze slowly from left to right.

This stretch is performed seated. Consistently maintain an elongated spine. First, carefully tilt your ear to your shoulder, as if you are trying to listen to it. When in this position, gently turn your gaze to the stars. IF AT ANY POINT you feel pinching, pain or any sensation in the back that does not feel correct, stop and attempt a different position.

To progress this stretch, feel free to hold the tissue under your collarbone to increase the sensation. There is the potential to not feel very much with this stretch.

NOTE: As with any stretch, if you feel any pain at any point please discontinue the stretch. Make sure that the stretch is held for a minimum of 30 seconds. It does take this long for change to occur. Repeat 3 times and always stretch both sides.

Peter Nassif

Author

peter-nassif

Peter is a graduate of the Sutherland-Chan School of Massage Therapy. He uses techniques such as Swedish massage, joint mobilizations , rhythmic mobilizations, lymphatic drainage, and favors fascial work, which creates symmetry within the body and addresses long-term musculoskeletal issues. Peter has competed in competitive body building and is practicing what he preaches as he strives to inspire everyone around him.