Wednesday, 19 March 2014

SternoCleido..what...? A Neck Muscle


The Sternocleidomastoid muscle runs from the mastoid process at the occiput to collar bone and sternum bones on both sides of the neck. If it harbours trigger points it can be the source of many a problem, even though it is seldom painful itself.

Some of the problems that manifest are frontal headaches, ear pain, facial pain, jaw tension, TMJ pain, and even stranger symptoms, like dizziness, brain fog, blurry vision, redness or tearing of eye/s or drooping eyelids, sinus pain! Pain may also be felt in the chest area or there can be hearing loss and/or ear pain.

Also fascinating is that trigger points in the SCM can affect the inner ear, causing balance problems such as dizziness, fainting, staggering, or even falling. The dizziness can last from seconds to hours following stretching or using the SCM. This can also create nausea, but not usually vomiting. The proprioceptors in the SCM signal the brain about the orientation of the head in relation to the body, so when there are trigger points in the clavicular branch of the SCM, the brain gets faulty information, creating the dizziness.

Very near to the SCM in the neck are feedback mechanisms called baroreceptors. These are responsible for correcting blood pressure (baro = pressure, as in barometer) when it gets too high, to protect the brain and heart. They are not in the SCM but nearby to the SCM, in the walls of the blood vessels (here: the carotid arch of the carotid artery). It is these miraculous structures that protect the brain from being flooded with blood in the inversions in yoga like, shoulderstand, headstand etc.

Massaging or applying pressure (as we do in MYYO) to the SCM can result in pressure to the baroreceptors if done too deeply or too hard. Practitioners need to remember the 5:5 rule - no more the 5 on the SUDS and no longer than 5 seconds of holding the TPs on neck and face!! You should not feel a pulse at all because you are then on or near the artery. Perhaps dizziness experienced at the MYYO treatment of these muscles is due to the blood pressure dropping too rapidly or false feedback from the proprioceptors to the brain.

Some activities and reasons why trigger points form in the SCM muscles:
  • Looking upwards in overhead activities
  • Keeping the head turned to one side
  • Forward head posture
  • Computer monitor off to one side
  • Holding phone with shoulder
  • Stomach sleeping
  • Heavy lifting
  • Falls and whiplash
  • Tight collar
  • A short leg or scoliosis or awkward posture
  • Stress and asymmetrical muscle tension
  • Chronic cough or asthma
  • Chest breathing

Stress may also play a big part in chronic muscle pain. Ongoing ‘low-grade’ stress from worries, anxiety, phobias etc may eventually create pain in either the postural muscles of the body or the smaller muscles, causing
ailments like fibromyalgia or others. If you are hydrating yourself with sufficient water everyday, eating nutritious foods, exercising and regularly having MYYO treatments to de-trigger muscle knots…… then perhaps you need to distress with a session of EFTapping.

For further info see: www.myyo.co.za OR www.eft.org.za


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