Sternocleidomastoid. What a mouth full!

Let’s try to break it down. The Sternocleidomastoid, or SCM for short, is a major muscle of the neck and comes in a pair. One on each side.  It originates from the sternum (sterno) and clavicle (cleido), and inserts in the skull just behind the ear (mastoid). It is located superficially on both sides of the neck. To see your SCM in action, look at the mirror and turn your head to the left, you’ll see your right SCM contract.

The Sternocleidomastoid muscle highlighted in green.


What does the Sternocleidomastoid do?

1. Flex your head to bring it to your chest
2. Laterally flex your head to bring ear to shoulder
3. Turn your head to the side

The SCM may become tight from improper posture, causing movements in all directions to be inhibited. To stretch and strengthen your SCM, try doing some of these asanas:

1. Revolved chair pose (Parivrtta Utkatasana)
2. Camel pose (Ustrasana)
3. Revolved triange pose (Parivrtta Trikonasana)

For example, when we do Parivrtta Trikonasana to the left, we are contracting and our right SCM. Remember to repeat on the other side to get an even work out on both SCM! In Ustrasana, both SCM are working together when you are looking up.

One important point to note is that only isometric exercises should be used to strengthen the neck. That means that we should not actively forward or laterally flex, extend, or rotate the neck against resistance as this may result in serious injuries!


200hrs YTT (weekend)