The sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck: functions (photo)

On the anterior-lateral surface of the neck, especially when it is rotated and tilted, a fairly massive cord is clearly visible, which is represented by the sternocleidomastoid muscle. This, at first glance, a complex name gives an idea of ​​its direct location, more precisely, the points of attachment and functions performed.

Sternocleidomastoid: photo

sternum clavicular mastoid photo

The photo above shows the steam room (left and right) sternocleidomastoid muscle. It is the most massive muscle of the neck. It performs the function of turning and holding the head.


The sternocleidomastoid muscle is located under the broadest fascia of the neck and is represented by a muscular cord, obliquely located on the front-side of the neck. At one end, this muscle originates from the clavicle (its sternal end) and from the front of the sternum grip. Walking obliquely upward and slightly posteriorly, it is also attached by two of its legs: one to the superior nuchal line, and the second to the mastoid process of the temporal bone.

sternum clavicular mastoid muscle

Sternocleidomastoid muscle: functions

Cuts on its own, it provides a head tilt in the direction of the working fibers while turning the head in the opposite direction. If the muscles are strained from both sides, the neck and head are straightened, it is possible that the head is thrown back and extended to the front, the neck is flexed and its return to the starting position is controlled. And also, together with the trapezius muscle, it helps to keep the head (just imagine how difficult it is, because the average weight of an adult’s head is more than three and a half kilograms!) In a fixed stable position while the lower jaw is working. For example, when chewing or talking.

sternum clavicular mastoid function

Innervation of the muscle and its blood supply

The sternocleidomastoid muscle is innervated by the cervical nerves in the spinal cord segment CII-CIv,as well as the outer branch of nervus accessorі.

Blood supply is provided by the artery of the same name (sternocleidomastoidea), as well as from the basin of the cervical arteries and the superior thyroid artery.

Pain syndrome and sternocleidomastoid muscle

Inflammation and overstrain in it are not uncommon.As a result of injury, excessive static loads or physical stresses in the muscle, so-called stress points arise. A distinctive feature of such pathological processes is the reflection of pain syndrome. This means that the points of tension and pain do not appear directly in the muscle fibers, but, for example, in the cheek, in the forehead, in the ear, in the temple, around the eyes, or as a headache and toothache.

sternocleidomastoid mastoid muscle inflammation

Affected sternocleidomastoid muscle of the neck can cause another, at first glance, not quite typical symptoms of muscle pain: dizziness, lacrimation, eye pain and redness, even to reduce visual acuity, cough, rhinorrhea (runny nose).

To palpate a muscle and identify possible painful points or inflammations, stand in front of the mirror, turn your head slightly to the side, for example, to the right, then stretch your left ear to the left shoulder. In this way, you will force the muscle to tense up and easily be able to visualize it. This muscle shaft is the sternocleidomastoid muscle.

If you are examining the muscle not in yourself, but in another person, then it is better to do this in the horizontal position of the patient.Place it on a flat surface, move your head slightly to one side and start feeling out from the mastoid process. Three fingers of the working hand (index, middle and ring) with light sliding movements to conduct an inspection. To increase access to the anatomical structures of the muscle, namely its head (clavicular and sternum), ask the patient to turn the chin to the other side of the muscle being examined.

sternum clavicular mastoid neck

Gently massage it along from top to bottom with light massaging movements and identify possible painful spots. When they are detected, massage the lungs, as if warming up and rubbing the selected areas a little. Do not be zealous, and if you increase pain, stop, give your muscle a rest, and continue the massage.

The sternocleidomastoid muscle at the end of therapeutic manipulations must necessarily be stretched. This will consolidate the achieved effect and prevent the occurrence of pathological conditions and the progression of the inflammatory process.

Stretching exercises and training sternocleidomastoid muscle

Stretching number 1

Put your head back, turn your face to the side - thus the muscle on the opposite side of the tilt is stretched. Repeat several times on both sides.

Stretching number 2

Turn your head to the right, and touch your shoulder with your chin (the muscle on the left is stretched). Repeat the stretch of the opposite side.

It is very important to breathe correctly when performing loads and stretch the muscles of the neck, especially the sternocleidomastoid. Since she is also involved in the process of breathing, in order to reduce her tension, when doing the exercises, breathe deeply, but with the stomach.

Exercises aimed at strengthening the muscle fibers consist in the static tension of individual muscle groups through their work and in opposition to muscle strength. To do this, place your hand on your forehead and, resting it, try to move your hand with your head. Do the opposite actions, forcing the rear fibers to strain, focusing with the help of linked hands on the back of the head. Alternate tension and rest: 6 seconds of resistance - 6 seconds of relaxation. For a start, 5-6 approaches will suffice. In the subsequent exercise frequency can be gradually increased.

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