SCM Stretch

Video Transcript:

Your SCM, or Sternocleidomastoid muscle, runs from your sternum and your clavicle and it inserts into the mastoid process of your occiput, part of your skull.

This muscle becomes chronically short with people who sit all the time. When you sit for hours per day, for days, weeks, months and years, and you’re in a hunched, slouched posture, your SCM muscle gradually becomes short and becomes very tight.

So how do we stretch that muscle? To stretch your SCM – if we’re going to first start by focusing on our left sternocleidomastoid muscle, I rotate away from that side, so towards my right side and I tilt my head back very slightly.

And if you’re looking you can probably see some of those muscle fibers pulling, becoming very tight. I hold this position here for about 30 seconds, then I very gently rotate my head back towards neutral.

Now I’ll focus on my right sternocleidomastoid. So again I rotate the opposite way, so towards the left side, and I tilt my head back like this.

If you’re looking you can probably see some of these muscle fibres firing through here. I hold this for about 30 seconds and then very gently rotate back towards neutral.

I will try to do each side three times, ideally every single day, once per day if not twice per day.

Some of these problems, some of these shortened muscles through here have likely been developing with you for years now. It will take you time to stretch them, but with diligent practice it will start changing.

To repeat one more time, you hold the SCM stretch for about 30 seconds. Try to do each side two to three times, or two to three repetitions, minimally once per day, twice a day even better.

Any questions, please ask.

What is the SCM Stretch?

The SCM (sternocleidomastoid) is a muscle in your neck commonly associated with poor hunched posture and neck pain. This neck stretch is designed to release tension in the SCM muscle, increase movement, and decrease neck pain.

SCM Stretch Instruction:

  • Step 1

    Start with your head in neutral posture

  • Step 2

    To stretch your left SCM muscle to start, rotate your head away from that side, towards the right side, then gently tilt your head back, to engage and stretch your sternocleidomastoid muscle fibers. Watch the video to see in detail how this backward head tilt is done.

  • Step 3

    You should be able to feel, and in some cases, see the SCM stretching in a mirror.

  • Step 4

    You may have to modify the angle of the stretch slightly, in order to get the best results for you. Everyone’s anatomy is slightly different, so slight modifications in the amount of rotation or tilt can help.

  • Step 5

    Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then gently rotate your head back towards neutral.

  • Step 6

    Then repeat on the opposite side.

  • Step 7

    Try to repeat each side 2-3 times, holding each time for 20-30 seconds.

  • Step 8

    Try to repeat the stretch 1-2 times per day.

  • Step 9

    If you experience any pain with this, please stop. Modification may be required.

  • Step 10

    For other helpful neck stretches, refer to the Scalene muscle stretch video and Neck Retraction exercise video.

  • Step 11

    For a more thorough neck stretching protocol, in addition to the SCM stretch, watch the Neck Stretching compilation video.

  • Step 12

    Any questions, please ask.

Read More About SCM Stretch Below

In this video you will learn how to stretch your SCM or sternocleidomastoid muscle.

A tight SCM muscle can contribute to neck pain, and is one of the most common muscles involved in forward head posture. Doing this exercise consistently can decrease neck pain, but also help you to improve poor posture.

Pay attention to the specific steps shown in the video, and take your time with it. Do not rush through the movements. Hold it for twenty to thirty seconds per side, and repeat two to three times per side.

If you feel pain with the SCM stretch, stop. Consider using less force, or changing the angle of your exercise slightly. For pain relief, this will take time, so stick with it, and over time your posture and pain will improve.

For other helpful neck stretches, refer to the Scalene muscle stretch video, and the neck stretching compilation video.

If you have any questions about any of it, please ask.

For further neck exercises and neck stretches for postural correction and forward head posture, refer to our neck pain Toronto condition page here:

Experiencing Pain or Discomfort ?

We can help!

Request Appointment​

New Patient - Priority Scheduling

Please fill out the form below, including all the required fields, and receive priority new patient scheduling.