What is a Sternal Muscle

The sternal muscle is a small muscle located in the chest region. It is also known as the sternocleidomastoid muscle or the SCM muscle. This muscle is a long, thin muscle that runs from the sternum (breastbone) to the clavicle (collarbone) and the mastoid process (a bony protrusion on the temporal bone of the skull).

The sternal muscle is a key muscle for movement of the head and neck. It is responsible for rotating the head to the opposite side, tilting the head to the opposite shoulder, and flexing the neck. It also helps to stabilize the head and neck during movement. The sternal muscle is a common site of tension and muscle spasm, and it can be strained or injured through activities such as lifting heavy objects or participating in contact sports.

Proper stretching and strengthening of the sternal muscle is important for maintaining good posture and mobility in the head and neck. Physical therapists and other healthcare professionals can provide guidance on how to stretch and strengthen the sternal muscle as part of a treatment plan for muscle strain or other injuries.

Function of the Sternal Muscle

The sternal muscle (also known as the sternocleidomastoid muscle or SCM muscle) is a key muscle for movement of the head and neck. It has several important functions, including:

  1. Rotating the head to the opposite side: When the sternal muscle on one side of the neck contracts, it rotates the head towards the opposite side.
  2. Tilting the head to the opposite shoulder: When both sides of the sternal muscle contract, they tilt the head towards the opposite shoulder.
  3. Flexing the neck: The sternal muscle also helps to flex the neck, bringing the head closer to the chest.
  4. Stabilizing the head and neck: The sternal muscle helps to stabilize the head and neck during movement, such as when walking or running.

In addition to these primary functions, the sternal muscle may also play a role in breathing and speaking. It is a common site of tension and muscle spasm, and it can be strained or injured through activities such as lifting heavy objects or participating in contact sports. Proper stretching and strengthening of the sternal muscle is important for maintaining good posture and mobility in the head and neck.

Common Issues with a Sternal Muscle

There are several common issues that can affect the sternal muscle, a large muscle located in the chest that runs vertically down the center of the chest and connects the ribs to the breastbone. Some of these issues include:

  1. Sternal fractures: A sternal fracture is a break or crack in the sternum, which can occur due to trauma or injury. Symptoms of a sternal fracture may include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and swelling or bruising in the chest area.
  2. Sternal strain: Sternal strain is an injury to the sternal muscle that occurs when the muscle is stretched or torn. It can be caused by activities that involve repetitive stress on the chest, such as heavy lifting or throwing a ball. Symptoms of sternal strain may include chest pain and difficulty moving the arms or chest.
  3. Sternal tenderness: Sternal tenderness is a condition in which the sternum is sore to the touch or causes pain when pressure is applied. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including muscle strain, inflammation, or an underlying medical condition.
  4. Sternal separation: Sternal separation, also known as diastasis sterni, is a condition in which the sternum becomes separated from the rib cage. It is most commonly seen in newborns, but can also occur in adults due to trauma or injury. Symptoms of sternal separation may include chest pain, difficulty breathing, and a visible gap between the ribs.

If you are experiencing any issues with your sternal muscle, it is important to speak with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

How to stretch your Sternal Muscle

To stretch your sternal muscle, you can try the following steps:

  1. Stand up straight and place your hands on your hips.
  2. Take a deep breath in and lift your arms up over your head.
  3. Reach up and back as far as you can, feeling the stretch in your sternal muscles.
  4. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then release and lower your arms.
  5. Repeat the stretch 2-3 times.

It’s important to stretch gently and never force your body into a position that feels uncomfortable or painful. If you feel any pain while stretching, stop immediately and consult a healthcare professional. Stretching should always be done in a slow and controlled manner.

How to Rehab your Sternal Muscle

The sternal muscle, also known as the sternocleidomastoid muscle, is a large, two-headed muscle that runs from the sternum (breastbone) to the clavicle (collarbone) and the mastoid process (a bony protrusion at the base of the skull). It is responsible for several important functions, including tilting and turning the head, flexing the neck, and helping to stabilize the shoulder girdle. If you have injured or strained your sternal muscle, there are several steps you can take to help rehabilitate it and promote healing:

  1. Rest: It is important to give your sternal muscle time to heal and recover, so try to avoid activities that put strain on the muscle. This may include activities like lifting heavy objects, doing vigorous exercise, or even holding your head in certain positions for extended periods of time.
  2. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Try placing a towel-wrapped ice pack on the area for 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day.
  3. Heat: After the initial inflammation has subsided, you can try using heat to relax the muscle and increase blood flow. This can be done with a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm shower.
  4. Stretching: Gently stretching the muscle can help improve flexibility and reduce tension. Be sure to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your stretches over time.
  5. Massage: Massaging the muscle can also help improve blood flow and relaxation. You can try using a foam roller or a massage ball to work on the muscle.
  6. Exercise: Once the muscle has had time to heal and you have regained some range of motion, you can begin to incorporate exercises that target the sternal muscle. These may include neck stretches, shoulder rolls, and exercises that involve tilting or turning the head.

It is important to remember to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard. If you are experiencing severe pain or discomfort, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional before attempting any rehabilitation exercises.

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About Athlete’s Choice Massage

Athlete’s Choice Massage was created to provide consistently excellent rehabilitative services for health-conscious people. Our team is extremely well-trained and they take pride in their work. They are constantly striving to learn and better themselves in their respective fields so that they can help you recover and aid in the maintenance of your well-being.

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