Ok, folks! I hope you are having a good week. Monday and Tuesday were so busy and stressful for me…I felt a little like I was being tossed around in a big wave. I did get several things done, however. I gave a little speech about Thai Massage (which I have been assured was not as bad as I thought), changed my insurance plan (to make it less expensive and include my husband finally), and went to a networking meeting. Today I have a little rest, which means I will make a big pot of soup, and also finally give you the next installment of Muscle Monday, just a few days late! Today, the sternocleidomastoid!
The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle is another one of my favorites, and its name makes its attachments pretty clear. The upper attachment is on the mastoid process of the temporal bone of the skull, and it has two lower attachments: at the manubrium of the sternum (sterno-) and at the medial clavicle (cleido-). Basically, what pops out in the front of the neck when you rotate your head to one side.
I don’t know about you, but before I went to massage school, I never really gave much thought to the muscles in my neck. Maybe the back of the neck, but not the front. I’m not sure why, since they are quite important, and also obviously there. I seem to encounter a lot of people though, who also have no idea. They think that there are only glands and blood vessels. Not so!
Anyhow, like the scalenes last week, they are small powerhouses which can cause a number of different problems when they get too tight, and the pain is rarely felt in the front of the neck. Trigger points in SCM can cause headaches, balance problems, visual disturbances, and even sinus problems. As the SCM primarily assists in rotating the head to the opposite side, and also to keep the head stable during movement, they can be tired out by keeping the muscles contracted for long periods of time. Try to avoid keeping your head turned to one side, reading in bed, and slouching. Learning to breathe deeply using the diaphragm instead of the chest can help as well. Whiplash is another cause of myofascial symptoms in the anterior neck. The SCM and scalenes act like a seatbelt for your head and neck. When you have a fall or a car accident, your anterior neck muscles contract to try to protect the body, but often end up in spasm. It’s also important to note that whiplash affects not only the neck, but it pulls on tissue all the way down the back to the sacral ligaments. Everything is connected!