Sternocleidomastoid Muscle

The sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM) (Fig. 8.6) consists of two muscle parts that attach caudally to the manubrium sterni and clavicles, and cranially to the superior nuchal line. Its cranial attachment lies on the occipitomastoid (OM) suture, which for Sutherland carried a special significance for cranial mobility. Restrictions of the OM suture limit the movements of the PRM. For this reason, the SCM is of particular significance.

Functions Bilateral

• Both SCMs together bend the CSC to pull the chin to the chest.

• In cases with hyperextended head, they pull the chin forward and help the neck muscles with the extension.

• They prevent the hyperextension of the CSC in a sudden push from behind, as, for example, in a whiplash trauma.

• They are inhalatory muscles.

• They are important for spatial orientation.


• In one-sided tension, the SCM bends the head and turns it to the other side, in the process of which the chin is lifted.

• Together with the trapezius, the SCM makes a pure sidebend.

• In scolioses, the SCM together with the trapezius straightens the head.


• Accessory nerve

The SCM is a muscle with a tendency to shortening (postural muscle). Because of its course and the numerous adaptive options, it is difficult to compare the length of the SCM. Diagnosis is done by palpating the muscle for trigger points or indurations.

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