The Secret to Avoiding Tension Headaches: Sternocleidomastoid Stretches
Upon first glance, the word "sternocleidomastoid" can look a little intimidating, however, it's simply the name for the muscle that connects your sternum, to your clavicle, to your mastoid. This muscle is responsible for enabling you to move your head from left to right, and it also provides structure. Throughout the day, and especially if you have kids or if you work at a desk job, the SCM can become tight. Improper posture and a lack of proper stretching and exercises can also be contributing factors for a tight SCM, which can lead to a pulling on the back of the neck muscles, which can contribute to a headache or a migraine.
To stretch the SCM, you will want to get into a comfortable position and try to model the depictions below.
First, visualize the SCM muscle (depicted in red), and gently place your hand near your ear as seen in the picture. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and perform the stretch on the opposite side.
Next, look up as reflected in the second picture and breathe into your muscles. Take 10 deep breaths, and if needed, go back to the first stretch.
After stretching, you should feel relief in the back of the neck region. You can apply peppermint oil to your neck if needed, while being careful to avoid the eye region.
You can do this stretch almost anywhere, even if you work in office space, as you don't need much privacy to be able to complete this preventative stretch.