Sternocleido-what? Part 4 of 4

By Sharon Truelove

In the previous 3 parts of our Sternocleidomastoid series of 4, we have discussed referred pain, balance problems, and visual disturbances. In part 4, we will discuss systemic symptoms.

The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) attachments are located at the base of the neck and behind the ears; at the sternum, the clavicle and the mastoid process.  SCM allows the head to turn and also helps maintain stability of the head when the body is in movement.  Because of the wide variety of duties SCM is involved in, trigger points are often misdiagnosed.

Systemic problems  affect an entire body system or region of the body. The problems can in turn affect the entire body. Holding the head in a position that causes the SCM to be in a continual contracted state that distorts posture is a sure set up for systemic problems.

Because SCM’s auxiliary function is to aid in forced inspiration, holding a contorted posture encourages shallow breathing. This can be a set up for chronic trigger points which can cause a domino effect by generating excess mucus in the sinuses, nasal cavities and throat. If you suffer from sinus congestion, sinus drainage, phlegm in the throat, chronic cough, constant hay fever or cold symptoms; it may actually be caused from mainting an unnatural posture of SCM.
Your homework:

1. Do you suspect that you might suffer from the above systemic trigger point symptoms?

2. Using the picture to the left, locate your own SCM. With finger tips explore both sides of the notch at the base of your neck. When you find tender spots in the sternal and/or clavicle branches, gently cross-fiber massage them for 30 seconds or until the tenderness lessens. Report your findings.

3. On someone else, locate tender or trigger points in their SCM and massage their SCM gently until the tissue softens and compare your findings with what you found concerning your own trigger points.

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