Neck Exercises: Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) Stretch
Feeling tension in the front and side of your neck? Finding that your head is tilting a bit to the side? Just feeling tightness when turning to the side? The muscle that is responsible for the tightness would be the Sternocleidomastoid muscle or known as SCM. In order to relieve neck tension in the front is to do the SCM neck exercises and stretches.
Sternocleidomastoid is named for its attachments to the bones in the neck. The SCM muscle has two parts in the front attachment – on the top of the sternum and on the clavicle. The SCM muscle ends at the mastoid process behind your jaw bone. When SCM on both sides of the neck work together the movement is neck flexion or bringing your chin down towards your chest. When SCM is working on one side it brings your head towards the same side shoulder and rotates to the opposite side.
Why do you want to perform neck exercises and stretches for the SCM? By stretching the SCM this neck exercise will help loosen the front and side of the neck. This will prevent any forward and tilted head from forming. By keeping the SCM flexible you will have greater neck range of motion. Another benefit of having the SCM muscle loose is that you avoid any compression on blood vessels or any nerves.
To begin SCM neck exercises as a stretch, sit upright in a chair. Have your feet flat on the floor, your shoulders relaxed, your hands resting on your lap, look straight ahead and perform a chin tuck. This SCM neck exercise will be felt on one side at a time. You will start with the right side and then will switch to the left side for these neck exercises.
Take a breath in and bring your left ear towards your shoulder about 45 degrees be sure you are still looking forward. Now turn your head so that your nose is pointing towards the ceiling about a 45 degree angle. Your eyes should be focus up towards the ceiling. Breathe out and hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch on the right front and side of the neck. You can bring your right hand down and reach towards the floor to get more of a stretch. Slowly bring your head back to the starting position. Now reverse direction to stretch the left SCM. Repeat these neck exercises three times.
There should be no pain when you perform these SCM stretch neck exercises. You should feel a tolerable stretch. If you find you get dizzy, release a little bit on the stretch. If you find that the SCM stretch is too much, limit the amount of neck motion on both the side bending and rotation of the head. These SCM stretch neck exercises should relieve the neck tension and help improve your neck posture.