On Wednesday, I discussed the scalenes and how posture and habits can cause neck pain and tightness. Luckily, we can all learn to massage our necks for scalene muscle pain relief. Of course, the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls are a great place to start, as you will see in Jill’s video below. Massaging the YTU balls above and below the clavicles, trying to reach deep beneath to the first and second ribs where the scalenes attach is a great place to begin. Also, massaging carefully on the lateral cervical neck will release tension as well. While Jill does not specifically mention the scalenes in the video, notice that her ball placement behind the sternocleidomastoid is right in the belly of the scalenes.  It’s not unusual for these two muscles to become a knotted gnarled mass.

Getting the scoop on the scalenes was enlightening. Now I need to get to work. Hopefully with a little YTU Therapy Ball work, some Yoga Tune Up® poses, and a conscious connection to my posture, my scalenes will stop screaming at me in no time!

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Christina Medina

Christina Medina is a Certified Yoga Tune Up® Teacher, RYT 200, and Certified Health Coach. When Christina isn’t spending time with her husband of 29 years or one of her four adult daughters, you can find her studying anatomy, biomechanics, or nutrition, health coaching clients to help them feel better in their bodies, or cooking up something gluten and grain free in the kitchen.

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Karla Knight

Thank you for your Informative article. I was looking for some information on the sternocleidomastoid and the video was very helpful.

Alice Yuan

I love the difference I feel just with Jill’s 90 second video! The mobility of our neck is so crucial that removing the fuzz by rolling, stretching, melting is essential! Thank you!


fantastic post international flight therapy – bring your balls on the plane!!!

Kammy Fung

My scalene tighted up with side sleeping habit. With the simple massage with the tune up ball, it feels the space in between the sternocleidomastoid related to other body part. My neck rotation is improved within a week of 10 minutes of neck care routine.

Monika Bansal

Its amazing how with YTU balls we can reach to the smallest of the muscles which otherwise would be difficult. I used to foam roll but never could reach the muscles of the neck.

Anastasia Polito

Fantastic to target the scalenes with therapy balls. I feel the sides of the neck are often overlooked as we often feel tension most from the back of the neck. Thank you! I loved seeing the video and having new techniques and approaches to use and teach!


Love this technique! I have spondylosis in C5-C6 and my neck is my nemesis!!!! I am always looking for ways to self-treat those areas. I particularly like the simplicity of this technique– I can do this easily while I ride on the train, as sitting for long periods of time is often when my neck flares up the most. Thanks!


Thanks! i am in charge of rolling the front neck, i had good ideas, and this one will go for sure in my routine!


Sometimes I can’t believe how tight, and the excess of tension I hold in my scalenes. I have a chronic tilt to the left that I was trying to address with trapezius stretches. I’m going to add this simple technique to see if it helps re align my head!


I love the simplicity of movements, making accessible to a very wide audience. Great one to do on airplanes! thank you!

Becky Battle

Loving how simple and accessible these exercises are for EVERYONE! This is so life applicable and the scalenes are often tight and cause jaw and ear pain as they can be utilized for wrong activities all day (such as breathing) Thanks for link to the video. I learn by watching!


This is a great tool for everyone to use but especially for those who breathe using the upper part of their chest. The scalenes work overtime trying to pull up the ribcage so that air can flow into the lungs. Try it after a day in front of a computer or after a long run!


Great add on to Jill’s video on using the yoga tune-up balls to free up the SCM. The SCM is part of the Superficial Front Line and the scalene are part of the Deep Front Line and they can become very tense with the head forward position and scapular elevation. I agree they can facially get “stuck.” Freeing these areas up can also reduce issues somewhere else in the body.


Haveing just finished my first Yoga Tune Up session in this area I can vouch for the benefits – my neck feels longer, my shoulders lower and my breath easier! Try it – go in slowly and appreciate the effects!!


It is great to see how to access the scaliness behind the SCM. I will be utilizing this technique often!


I love this technique for targeting the scalenes! So many people carry tension in these muscles, and this is an accessible way that anyone can address this imbalance. Thanks for highlighting this helpful technique, Christine!

Vanessa I

I guess today’s work is all on the upper part of my body, shoulders, temporalis muscles, and scalenes. Using the yoga balls on the sternocleidomastoid just turning my head, felt a soothing stretch. I honestly would of never felt to try to massage this park of my body thinking it could help. Let alone think that it would be tight, which in my case it was. Getting more in tuned with my anatomy for the teacher training, this little action could be a good thing for someone with tension in the neck. Brings me more to the realization that each… Read more »


Dear Christina, I just did this sequence a few times, and I feel great! I didn’t realize how much tension I carried in my SCM! When I first started cross-fibering, I felt a dull ache in my pectoralis, and I found this quite interesting. I know what my pecs are tight (esp, pec minor), and I have used the therapy balls to massage them out — especially around their insertion points. I’ve always focused more on the muscles at the back of my neck to give my neck relief, so it was a revelation to me to realize that tension… Read more »

Abigail Stevenson

I have never done a stretch on my neck like this or would have thought about using the tune up balls like this! I have been sleeping funny and the right side of my neck has been extremely tense and stiff. I have done this stretch now a couple times these past few days and my neck feels great. Thank you, Christina!

Riyo Mito

I never massage or stretch this area before myself. It is great!


I found a great relief after trying it. Thank you! My neck is usually tight and this is a great way to massage the muscle and anybody can do it.

Michelle Clemens

Thank you for posting this video. As a population, we tend to only think about our posterior neck muscles and forget there are stabilizing muscles in the front of the neck. I particularly like this ball rolling placement because I have an old whiplash injury and this can really help break up scar tissue and continue with my healing process.

Beverly N.

Hello Christina,
It is really good to know all the muscles of the respiratory system. I tried this one and learned that I have to be careful with the amount of pressure applied. Thanks.

katie in montana

I LOVE this technique! I used to do it with my hands and finally got some YTU therapy balls….very surprised(and pleased) at the difference they made in releasing that area. My left SCM and front of neck gets very tight after dental work….releasing those areas helps my neck and also my TMJ issues. Thanks for all you do in helping us get to be more pain free!



Thank you! I’m glad that you enjoyed it!



Great 2 part article! Never even thought to use the balls there. Always something new