Sternocleidomastoid – The Neck

This mouth full of a word is simply the neck and pertains to the sternum, clavicle and mastoid process. These muscles serve to flex the neck and rotate the head. This muscle is commonly overlooked but can be a culprit in forward head tilt, a functional muscle imbalance. For those of us that work at a computer all day or have poor posture with rounded shoulders, probably suffer from overactive sternocleidomastoid, or upper crossed syndrome.

According to NASM, upper crossed syndrome is a postural distortion syndrome characterized by a forward head and rounded shoulders. With this syndrome, typically the following muscles are shortened and therefore need to be lengthened with SMR: upper trapezius, levator scapulae, STERNOCLEIDOMASTOID, scalenes, latissimus dorsi, teres major, subscapularis, pectoralis major/minor. In turn, the following muscles will likely be lengthened and therefore need to be strengthened with a YAX class: deep cervical flexors, serratus anterior, rhomboids, mid-trapezius, lower trapezius, teres minor, infraspinatus.

This syndrome is directly related to increased cervical extension, scapular protraction/elevation and decreased shoulder extension and shoulder external rotation. Why is this so important? Displaying signs of altered joint mechanics can lead to injury such as headaches, biceps tendonitis, rotator cuff impingement and thoracic outlet syndrome. What do you do to correct these imbalances and avoid this injury? Sign up for an FMS screening and join our classes! Within our classes you will likely see flexibility exercises such as the static sternocleidomastoid stretch or the static upper trapezius/scalenes stretch to get that overactive sternocleidomastoid back to functioning efficiently.