These muscles are important for posture and head movement. They are often a problem or concern in certain types of headaches.
What They Do
The sternocleidomastoids, or SCMs, can work individually to help you turn your head or work together to nod your head forward.
Why They Hurt
- You may have a knot or spasm
- You might be overusing them and they may have shortened
- There may be joint dysfunction (restriction in spine)
If you have a problem with your SCMs, you may also experience:
- Neck/head pain or arm pain, due to
- Trigger points - see diagram below
- A Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in which the SCM is squishing the nerves that bypass it and go into your arm
The trigger points (the ‘X’ icons) can cause pain in the colored areas.
What to Do (Treatments)
Depending on which of the above causes you may have, you can:
- Stretch (see below)
- Have your knots treated
- Have your neck, upper back, ribs, and clavicles adjusted (as applies to you)
How to: Stretch
- Lie on your back.
- Place one hand palm down under the same side hip.
- Use opposite hand to reach over your head and gently pull your head so your ear comes closer to your shoulder.
- Slowly and gently turn your head away from that shoulder.