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Neck Series Part II: All about this little unique neck muscle- sternocleidomastoid (SCM)

Welcome back for another neck series.  Did everyone give the range-of-motion test a try?  Did both left, right, front, and back sides feel even and pain-free?  Hope it did!

Below is a chart to compare your ranges.  Hooray for charts!



Cervical Spine Direction Degrees of Range (Approx. degrees)
Flexion 50
Extension 60
Lateral Flexion 45
Lateral Rotation 80


Today, we will be looking at one of the most unique muscles of the neck, the sternocleidomastoid (SCM).  This muscle is located in the front of your neck on both left and right sides and controls movements associated with the neck.  It has attachments on the sternum, clavicle, and temporal bone of your skull (mastoid process), hence the name sterno-cleido-mastoid.  To locate the muscle, simply rotate your chin to one shoulder and the SCM will simply pop out and become distinct in the front of your neck.  Palpate from behind the ear, down towards the front of the neck.  Here are the anatomical all-star stats for the SCM:



(where the muscle starts)

 Manubrium (sternum)

Clavicle (collar bone)


(where the muscle ends)

 Mastoid process (behind the ear)
Action on C-spine

(movement it produces)

Bilaterally (both sides together)

  • flexion
  • extension


Unilaterally (one side only)

  • lateral flexion (ear to shoulder)
  • lateral rotation to opposite side (chin to opposite shoulder)
Nerve Innervation

Spinal accessory nerve (XI)

Sensory supply from C2 and C3


So why are we looking at this muscle?  The SCM is highly susceptible to something we call myofascial trigger points.  These points generally feel painful and very tender upon palpation.  You may even feel “knots” when palpating these muscles.  Trigger points form because the muscle is too overworked, stressed, and ultimately tight. Each muscle will have a unique referral pain away from the muscle itself.



Most often, injury/dysfunction of this muscle typically comes from poor head-neck posture or from trauma such as whiplash.  Here are some common signs and symptoms you may be experiencing:


  • Neck pain
  • Headaches (occipital, temporal, frontal, or around the eyes)
  • Migraines with visual disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Pain in upper chest


As massage therapists, when considering treatment goals, we want to make sure these trigger points are addressed and that everything is properly aligned.  Without proper alignment, the muscle will not be able to function optimally.  Here are some tips and tricks on treating your SCM:


  1. Stretch the muscle
  • Make sure your head and neck are properly aligned in a neutral position
  • Tilt your chin up slightly as if you are gazing at the stars.
  • Proceed to bring your hand over your head onto the temple
  • Bring your ear to your shoulder
  • Go slow and stretch only until you feel a nice pulling sensation along the side of the neck.  Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
  • Make sure to avoid any unnecessary pain and keep your shoulders down.
  1. Self-release
    • Locate the muscle by first rotating the chin to one side.
  • Lightly pinch/grab the muscle belly


  • While holding onto the muscle, align yourself in a neutral position looking straight ahead.
  • Perform slow movements of ear to opposite shoulder repetitively
  • Self-releases should only be performed 20 to 30 seconds at a time with rest between sessions.

Give the stretch and self-release a try for yourself.  Hope you find some sort of relief with them!  Please stay tuned for more content including videos and more posts about the neck muscles.  Cheers!

By: Jonathan Chang, RMT, SMT(cc)






Contact us today to book your massage!

Denise House Holiday Season Gift Program

Our team here at JointAction has decided to once again support the Denise House this holiday season. Founded in 1991, the Denise house provides a shelter for women and their children who suffer at the hand of domestic violence here in the Durham Region.  Below is a list of gift suggestions for Mothers and their Children, we will be collecting the items here at the clinic until December 15, 2017.


To learn more about the Denise House and their mission, click on the link below:

Piriformis Syndrome- A Pain in the Butt (LITERALLY!)

Have you experienced buttock pain? Have you being told that you have sciatica? Do you know that piriformis syndrome can also cause pain that resembles sciatica?

Piriformis muscle is located in the buttock region. When it spasms/swells/gets tightened, it can irritate the sciatic nerve that passes through the muscle. This leads to tenderness in the buttock, tingling/numbness along the back of the leg, and sometimes into the foot. You might have increased pain after prolonged sitting, reduced movement of the hip and pain with walking up stairs.

There is a quick 2 minute video that describes piriformis syndrome and sciatica. Please come in for a 15 minute free consultation if you have any questions.


By: Jie (Janet) Yang, PT.  


If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us today for you FREE 15 minute meet and greet!

Chiropractic adjustments & pregnancy: why it can be beneficial

During pregnancy there are changes in posture due to her growing belly where the abdominal muscles are stretched. This places a lot of stress into the lower back, hips, knees, ankles and feet. The average amount of weight gain during pregnancy is approximately thirty pounds. Usually as the pregnancy goes on, there is a pregnancy “penguin-like” waddle.

Physical changes are obviously visible but there are the hormonal changes which occur that you cannot see. There are hormones which increase at the end of the pregnancy which loosen up the joints in the pelvis which accommodate the uterus. The back and pelvic muscles have to work really hard to keep the spine upright and balanced.

Back pain can significantly be reduced by manual therapies including chiropractic care. The vertebrae(bones of the spine) encase the spinal cord and the proper movement of these bones can aid in the proper functioning of the nervous system. This is especially important during pregnancy as it can decrease pressure on the joints, muscles and nerves of the spine. It can help with posture and labour.

Chiropractic treatment can involve spinal adjustments, soft tissue therapy and exercise to say the least. There are various ways to adjust the spine guarantee that a pregnant patient is comfortable and safe. Using pregnancy pillows for her growing belly and tables which have a pelvic piece which drop down are helpful. There are different techniques which the chiropractor can use to adjust the spine beyond the traditional manual type of adjusting; the Activator(the main technique I use with pregnant patients usually), Sacro Occipital Technique, and Webster to name a few.

Spinal areas that I will find that are commonly restricted during pregnancy are in the upper thoracic spine from the chest increasing in size, lower thoracic spine and lumbar spine due to the expanding abdomen, the sacrum, sacroiliac joints, and  pubic bones which encase the uterus. Soft tissue trigger points are commonly found in the gluteus, piriformis, thoracic and  lumbar paraspinals, rhomboids and upper trapezius muscles.

Chiropractic alongside other conservative treatments can aid in alleviating some of the pressures built up in the body during the process. It can work optimally with other types of treatment including physiotherapy and massage as well.  Something to consider as pregnancy pre and post bring about a lot of changes to the body and should be addressed accordingly.

By: Dr. Teesha Geevarghese (B.Sc., D.C.) Chiropractor


To learn more about Chiropractic care click here!

Should you have any questions or concerns contact us for your free 15 minute meet and greet today!