Your Pain Pattern,
What Aggravates It,
The Underlying Anatomy
How to Get Relief,
How People Describe This Pain Pattern
People touch a spot above their eye and say, “The headache is right here in my forehead.”
When both sides of the neck are involved, they rub their hand across their forehead. Then, they close their eyes say that it hurts all the way across.
Clients usually don’t tell their massage therapist that their ears bother them. Usually, they don’t think it is a muscle problem. If I ask about their ears, they typically talk about itching, being sensitive, or buzzing, instead of pain.
The other section of sternocleidomastoid creates pain around the brow and is activated more by pulling forward with a twisting motion.
How You Activate and Intensify This Pain Pattern
Pulling your head forward in a sustained or repetitive motion is how this trigger point is commonly activated. Usually, the chin is tucked, but not always. When they recline in bed or on a couch, people aggravate this from pulling forward to read their laptops.
I had a client come in with this headache from reading her iPad like the gal in this picture. As her arms get tired and drop, this muscle tightens to pull the head forward.
An ultrasound tech who was always looking down sharply at clients had problems with this headache as well. You can also activate this pattern by pulling forward in a car seat that leans back or any motion that thrusts the head forward while keeping the chin down. My gym partner came in with this pattern this morning and didn’t think he was doing this until I made the motion where I slowly turned my head down toward my feet. Then he said, “Oh yeah, I watch the TV that way before I go to sleep.”
The Musculoskeletal Anatomy Behind Your Pain
This headache pattern is caused by a trigger point in the sternocleidomastoid muscle in your neck. This effects of this muscle are complex. In fact, the SCM is associated with several other disorders like anxiety, sinus problems, tinnitus, and blurred vision.
Getting Relief on Your Own
This post has strategies for getting relief on your own. Explore how to change your activities, stretch, and other strategies that relieve the pain associated with this trigger point.
Treatment Notes for Therapists
Through Shared Expertise.
This post has techniques, tips, treatment routines, and anatomy illustrations to improve the bodyworker’s approach.
This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.
Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points, and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.
*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read, more accessible, and
to include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there will be inconsistency in formatting, content, and readability until we get the old posts updated. Please excuse our mess.