I’m enjoying these neck appreciation posts and I hope that you are too! For this week I thought it would be nice to show you one of my favourite named parts of the body there is – the sternocleidomastoid muscle. This muscle is pretty big and you will all have felt or seen it, even if you did not know the name. It’t that chunky one in your neck that you feel when you clench your jaw and stick out your chin. Ultimately it’s there to aid the movement of your head and neck as you rotate your head from side to side. I like it because it’s big and it has a pretty cool name.
In fact, the cool name is a very functional one and it’s a good way of remembering where this muscle is. Sterno indicates the sternum, cleido the clavicle and mastoid the part of the temporal bone of the skull called the mastoid process. The mastoid process is the bump you can feel behind your ear next to your mandible (jaw bone) and is, in theory, larger in males than in females (although mine are fairly sizeable). The muscle starts at the manubrium (top part) of the sternum where the clavicle also meets and runs to the mastoid process, hence sternocleidomastoid. I think the name also rolls off the tongue quite easily, try saying it out loud now. Fun, right?
It is possible to feel pain in this muscle in a variety of situations, including whiplash or poor posture. One website I found also noted that the position of the neck encouraged by the use of keyboard or mobile phones can also be a key factor for pain – check that posture and neck position while you’re reading this. I will stop telling you what to do soon, but do try it. I all too often find myself hunched over when doing many different things which cannot be great for my neck or my sternocleidomastoid for that matter. There are conditions known as many different things including sternocleidomastoid syndrome or torticollis where the position of the neck is twisted and painful. Neck pain can be a problem for many, and as problematic as back pain, which is why it is important to take good care of your neck and ensure your lifestyle aids this.