The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) is the large muscle in your neck that you can see when you turn your head to the side. It is a common cause of pain due to “tech neck.” This muscle is also prone to injury in car accidents and sports-related mishaps.
This muscle is often responsible for a “crick” in your neck when you’ve “slept wrong.” It can also be injured in accidents and is often involved with whiplash. Occasionally, the SCM can cramp or spasm which is quite painful.
The SCM can work alone or in conjunction with the opposite side. Alone, the SCM rotates the face to the opposite side and lifts it towards the ceiling. When working in pairs, the SCMs flex the head and neck.
There are common trigger points in the SCM that refer pain to the cheek, forehead, ear and along the orbital ridge. Pain can also be referred to the sternum.
These trigger points can cause postural dizziness as well as headaches.
Massage the SCM
Treatment of the Sternocleidomastoid is standard in nearly every massage modality including Sports Massage. Deep tissue techniques can treat trigger points. I usually use specific Thai techniques to work on the neck while you are lying on your back. These techniques include range of motion stretches and acupressure holds.
Stretch Your SCM
Work on the sternocleidomastoid can be very relaxing. Some clients experience dizziness or a feeling of lightheadedness when this muscle is being massaged.