Trigger Point: Sternocleidomastoid


Please be sure to refer to What Are Trigger Points and How To Release Trigger Points when working on trigger points at home. As always, please consult with your primary care physician prior to any type of treatment.

Sternocleidomastoid: Muscular Origins, Insertions, Actions, and Nerve Innervations

The Sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle originates at the top of the manubrium for the sternal head and at the medial third of the clavicle for the clavicular head. Both muscle bellies insert at the mastoid process of the temporal bone as well as the lateral superior nuchal line of the occiput.

When only one side of the SCM muscle is activated, the actions are to laterally flex the head to the same side, rotate the head to the opposite side. When you activate both of your sternocleidomastoid muscles, you are able to perform flexion of the neck. These muscles can also assist in respiratory inhalation.

The nerve associated with this muscle is the spinal accessory nerve.

Sternocleidomastoid Trigger Points: Location and Possible Symptoms


When a trigger point is active in the sternal branch of the SCM muscle, you may feel a widespread, traveling, dull achy pain that extends from the front of the neck, into the chin, around the eyebrow, to the front and back of your ear, and to the top of the head.

If the clavicular branch of the SCM muscle has a trigger point, the pain is less widespread and can travel up the side of your neck, into and behind your ear, and right above the eye.


Corinne D. Bracko-Douglas, CMT, LMT, CKTP is the owner of Dochas Clinical Massage Therapy based out of Columbia, MO. She received her diploma in Clinical Massage Therapy from The Soma Institute in Chicago, IL in 2004. She enjoys teaching others about how to live a healthy lifestyle and still works one on one with clients out of her private clinic. When not working as a therapist she can be found enjoying trail hikes with her wonderful husband, Lee, and their adorable doggos, Shadow and Koda, or trying out fun new workouts to expand her knowledge of the human body and how it functions.

The advice given in these articles is not meant to diagnose. Please always consult with a health care provider before performing any of the techniques described upon yourself.

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