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Sternocleidomastoid Stretch

The Sternocleidomastoid Stretch is performed to increase the flexibility of the Sternocleidomastoid muscle.
The sternocleidomastoid muscle is one of the largest muscles of the neck. Tight sternocleidomastoid muscle makes the jaw protrude forward which in turn pulls the head out of its correct alignment. Stretching gets the muscle to relax and return to its normal length so the jaw can stay in its correct position.


Relevant Anatomy:
It originates in two places—on the top of the manibrium of the sternum and on the clavicle. It joins together about one third of the way up its diagonally upward course to its point of insertion on the mastoid process.


Actions
Acting alone each sternocleidomastoid will tilt the head towards the ipsilateral shoulder, simultaneously rotating the head so as to turn the face towards the opposite side. This movement occurs in an upward, sideways glance. A more common visual movement is a level rotation from side to side, and this probably represents the most frequent use of the sternocleidomastoids.
Acting together from below, the muscles draw the head forwards and so help longus colli to flex the cervical part of the vertebral column, which is a common movement in feeding. The two sternocleidomastoids are also used to raise the head when the body is supine; when the head is fixed, they help to elevate the thorax in forced inspiration.

Sternocleidomastoid anatomy
Sternocleidomastoid muscle anatomy

Innervation: Sternocleidomastoid is supplied by the accessory nerve.

 
Sternocleidomastoid Stretch
Sternocleidomastoid Stretch
 

To perform the Sternocleidomastoid Stretch follow the given instructions:

  • Sit on chair.
  • Hold chair with right hand and use left hand to support head.
  • Bend neck forward, side bend to left, and turn head to right.
  • Lean body to left and slightly forward.
  • Hold and repeat.
  • Repeat stretch on other side.

Steps of Sternocleidomastoid Stretch
Steps of Sternocleidomastoid Stretch

There should be no pain when you perform these Sternocleidomastoid 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 Sternocleidomastoid stretch is too much, limit the amount of neck motion on both the side bending and rotation of the head. These Sternocleidomastoid stretch neck exercises should relieve the neck tension and help improve your neck posture.