Everybody has two of them and they’re very often the storage point for stress and strain. Say hello to your Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscles. The muscles are attached to the base of your skull just behind your ear and extend down your neck and toward the front of your body and attach to the clavicle (collar bone).
What does the muscle do?
The muscle is responsible for rotating and flexing your neck. The SCM also helps you breath in (inspiration). Interestingly, while the muscle seems to store stress, it rarely hurts. Instead it just causes strain on other muscles and tension can present itself in the form of headaches, facial pain, jaw tension and even dizziness, blurry vision and muffled hearing.
Since each SCM muscle turns the head to the opposite side, any position where the neck is held in an unrested state (hyperextension, for example) can cause trigger points. Some common causes of SCM tension include:
- improper placement of computer monitor (off to one side instead of head on)
- tight collar
- falls and whiplash (injury)
- heavy lifting
- stomach sleeping
- chronic cough/asthma
- forward head posture
- phone neck
What to do with this pain in the neck
If the SCM is sore, especially when you press or squeeze them gently, then they’re probably creating other problems for you. A qualified massage therapist knows just what to do. They work the origin and insertion of the muscle, work the trigger points in the body of the muscle, and show you stretches to help you prevent further problems.