How To Massage The Side and Front of The Neck (Sternocleidomastoid)

When you have a neck pain you usually massage the neck muscles in the back which feels great. This week I’m going to shine a light on another neck muscle that can cause a neck pain and limited range of motion.

It’s called Sternocleidomastoid sometimes referred as SCM because its two heads attach to the sternum and clavicle and the other end inserts to mastoid process which is a bumpy bone behind the ear. These muscles on both sides help to flex the neck forward, tilt your head to the side, turn your head to the side, and turn your head diagonally to stick the chin out.

A good way to see if you have any limitation in the range of motion is to do a figure eight with your neck. Draw an infinity with your chin. If you have a difficulty doing this you may have a tight spots in the sternocleidomastoid.

To loosen the muscle tilt your head to the side so you can easily grab the muscle with your thumb and the side of your index finger. And slowly rub each section between your fingers as you move down the sternum branch down to the sternum. Use fingertips if it’s easier.

Then move over to the clavicle head and move up the clavicle branch. Clavicle branch sits behind the sternum branch so it helps to push the sternum branch to the side and dig deeper but not to the point it causes pain.

There are major nerves and arteries in this area so be careful not to do it too hard. Back off if you feel any pain. Whenever you feel a tight or sore spot, rub a little bit more or just pinch or press and see if it will release because it sometimes does. I usually say in my head “It’s ok to release.” Do this several times a day as needed.

Another way to loosen this muscle is to hold the clavicle head attachment site and stretch your neck diagonally and tilt your head to the side.

The tight, sore spots on the sternocleidomastoid are most likely trigger points. I am not going into details today but the trigger points on this neck muscle can cause symptoms such as headache in different parts of the head, deep eye pain, blurred vision, spasms and drooping eyelids, loss of hearing, loss of balance, dizziness that can be diagnosed as vertigo or Meniere’s disease, tongue pain, toothache, TMJ pain, sinus congestion, phlegm in the throat, and chronic cough to name a few.

As you massage this muscle you are releasing the trigger points and hopefully the related symptoms too if you have any.

You are also stimulating the acupressure points along this muscle which are good for throat and voice issues, and respiratory issues such as asthma. There is an acupressure point between the sternum head and clavicle head called Stomach 11. This is good for neck pain. Press this point for one minute as you breathe deeply.

So try this massage whenever you cannot turn your neck after you slept wrong or car accident, or just in general with the limited range of motion.

6-13-16 How To Massage The Side and Front of The Neck (Sternocleidomastoid)