Pronounced ‘sturnoh-klahy-duh-mas-toid’, this marvellous muscle is found in the central part of your collar bone and allows you to rotate your head from side to side…

This month, we wanted to shine some light on this muscle as many of us experience pain and discomfort and most of the time we simply disregard it or ignore it.


Where is the muscle?

Located in the base of your skull and running up and behind your ears, the sternocleidomastoid muscle is responsible for a number of movements within our necks. These movements include:

  • Head rotation from left to right
  • Tilting your head forward and backwards

This muscle also aids chewing, swallowing and essentially allows us to eats effortlessly. Its also enables your head to remain stable should you tilt it backwards.

Common Causes of Pain

Some of the many reasons why tightness or tension can build up is often due to the following…

  • Looking down for long periods of time
  • Repeatedly looking up, down or side to side
  • Whiplash from accidents
  • Poor posture

Symptoms of pain

If you have trouble doing some of the below, you could probably benefit from paying attention to this muscle…

  • Struggle to hold your head upright
  • Feelings of dizziness or struggle to balance
  • Feelings of sickness and fatigue
  • Soreness and pain in the jaw, neck or even at the back of your head at the base of your skull
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Frequent headaches and migraines

How to ease the pain

There are a number of stretches which you can do to avoid and reduce some of these pain symptoms.

In the image, one of our PT’s, Dan, is demonstrating one of the most common and straight forward stretches known as ‘neck rotations’. All you have to do is gently lean your head to one side whilst keeping your shoulders facing forward and apply a light pressure onto the sky-facing side of your head.

You should feel a rather relieving stretch. If you feel any pain or discomfort, reduce the amount of pressure on the side of your head.

For more ways to stretch your sternocleidomastoid, why not ask one of the team next time you’re in the gym.



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