Earlier this week, I told you about scalene muscles and the pesky problems they can cause. Today, I will show you ways to relieve trigger points and tension in this group of 3 small muscles in your anterior neck.
First of all, I recommended starting with massage to the scalenes. “Supraclavicle Scrub Out” is a terrific Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball massage routine that targets these muscles. This technique can be found on pages 329-330 in The Roll Model by Jill Miller or learned from a Roll Model® instructor in your area.
Due to the common issue of excessive screen time with forward head posture in our modern culture, it can be very helpful to lay on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor, in a YTU pose called Ardha Savasana (half corpse). While in this position, if your head is tilted back, you should place a small book or folded towel under your head to bring your neck to a neutral position (eyes should be looking straight up toward the ceiling). Rest in this position and practice deep breathing techniques for several minutes to decrease stress and tension in the scalene muscles.
Stretching the scalenes also aides in diminishing their tension. The video below shows an effective stretch for the scalenes and platysma in your anterior neck:
Finally, I recommend developing positive posture habits while sitting and standing, tucking your chin so that your ears are directly over your shoulders. An average adult head weighs 8 to 12 pounds, so adjusting your head back even an inch can make a huge difference in the tension you carry in your neck muscles. Pay special attention to how you hold your head while using your phone, computer or tablet, and place these screens directly in front of your face, rather than dropping your face down to the screen, with a goal of keeping your entire spine in neutral.
I hope this helps remedy tension in your scalene muscles and the wide array of symptoms they can cause!
The neck is an interesting area to stretch, so many sensitivities that it is often left neglected…I like the self stretching video included because having people use their own hands in palpation and release of this area might decrease the reactivity of having someone else touch this area to support. I gave it a try and OH MY thats an area that needs some TLC in my body.
Thank you for putting this information together!
Oh, so easy! I love that this move is “tool free” and we can do anywhere! It also gives a felt sense of what is going on in our bodies as we touch and bring relief to this area commonly tight. As we release the front/anterior, we can then use the back/posterior muscles to pull the head back over the ribs and get in neutral! Thanks Jill!
Thank you for this advice. I teach chair yoga and the participants always need neck release. This would offer another opportunity to help them.
Great tips on restoring proper length to the scalenes. I will be using the techniques throughout the day to counter all the time my scalenes are on tension.
Thank you again for posting these series! The video was fantastic too. I’m here sitting at a coffeee shop reading this blog with a bad posture, my neck down & causing stress unconsciously. I corrected my posture and did the exercise in the video (people around me thought I was weird making those sticking out the chin faces lol.) This exercise will now be my daily routine. Thanks again 🙂
Thank you for your great article on scalene! I have one question about the last method on this – tucking the chin in! I think this position for me shortens and contracts scalene & platysma because my anterior side of neck is shortened. Would you have any advice on that?
Thank you for all the recommendations to help relief the pesky problems the scalenes can cause!
Great scalene stretch, and thanks for the postural reminder!
Lovely follow up of the first scaliness article. Thank you for sharing the video with Jill, i tried this stretch right now for the first time and – WOW – GREAT and so easy to do!
Great article and video! It is always a good reminder to be more aware of our posture. I need to go and purchase the Roll Model Method textbook, and register for the course! This is making me hungry to learn more about the techniques. Thank you!
Thanks for the pages of the ‘Supraclavicle Scrub-Out’ in The Roll Model. I’m going to give these exercises a try tonight to learn better where they are, and how they’re affecting my neck and its tension. I can then better address these issues in my clients to help them feel better in their bodies.
That a great stretch for the neck, something to add on to my daily neck stretching.
This is great!
A new exercice that everyone can do everywhere!!!
I will use this stretch for while I am working a lot at the computer or when stress is catching my breath!
I always have neck and scalene pain, and this article is a great reminder to bring items up to you..books, computers, phones. And then lying down in neutral to not only stretch the scalenes but also bring the cervical spine into it’s natural lordotic state is a great note for most people nowadays. Jill’s video showed an stretch I’ve never seen, and doing it while watching was a great experience, I felt the stretch in the neck I’ve never felt and it felt secure while also feeling new and informed.
I have been very aware of my scalenes for some time now but this exercise is the boom! so much relief after doing this one . I cannot believe the difference..immediate change in tension in this area. Definitely an exercise to do throughout the day to relieve tension and pain.
Incroyable! I just tried this exercise, “The Marlon Brando look”! That work surprisingly, i can feel some tension from my neck, some pression i never experienced before, even some old memories of accident and operation to my neck The head is so heavy and i focus so often on those screen in a bad way! Now, i know, now, thank to author, my proprioception change…
I have been doing homework for a few hours now and my posture needed your post. Head back and neck muscles happier. Thank you for the reminder. Love the stretch in the video.
I deliberately started sleeping on my back without a pillow for the exact reasons you describe (head forward postures). This post reminds me to start giving my scalenes some love.
I tried the Scalene stretch, it felt great! It’s is good to know that something as simple as resting your neck by laying on you back can help release your Scalenes too. That’s one more reason to have a nice long Savasana!
Can’t wait to try that rolling sequence and start loosening my chronically tight staleness – thank you!
Im am trying this tonite!! Thx a bunch!
I have never seen or done that stretch before – thank you! It felt amazing. It’s always helpful to have a reminder about good posture! I also love the image for the positive posture habits.
Not only is the Supraclavicle Scrub-Out a great way to combat looking at a computer or phone all day, it is also great for people who live in cold climates, like myself. My shoulders are constantly up to my ears bracing from the cold. Keep those scalenes covered up and warm in the cold, wintery wind and scrub them out when you get home!
Excellent article! I chronically have an issue with my scalene muscles due to forward head carriage from vision problems and years of looking down at the ground, books, computer, etc. Its a good reminder to practice tucking your chin in and keeping your tablet directly in front of your face!
These guidelines are so simple & yet so challenging to implement & grow into a habit. Thank you for reminding me how straightforward self care can be!
I’ve become more aware of how big role scalene muscles have not just in neck pain but upper back, arms even hands as you mentioned. Also, scalene muscles are related to the infrahyoid muscles, larynx, arteries and what is sitting around that area such as the thyroid gland. This area is often refer to as the “highway of expression” and it is related to emotional traumas. Releasing tension on scalene muscles not only will help with neck pain but with expression -literally and emotionally. Also, with a well balanced thyroid function. Thus, as you well express on your blog, these muscles are more important than sometimes are acknowledged for. Thank you for remind me of their importance!
This is one of the biggest problems that I have. Looking down too much either reading, looking at the phone or trying to look where I’m walking. This is an easy stretch to counter that that but correcting the problem along with this is the best solution. Time to retrain my habits.
This stretch is amazing. I’ve been using it to treat myself and my massage clients in the past year and it works great.
This is the first time I see this stretch and I love it! I can still feel the difference it made in my neck.
Yes, I am becoming very aware of how I hold my phone and even reading a book in bed.
I realize how much I dislike sitting too.
I’d rather stand or pace while studying or working now.
And wow! The head is heavy!
I wonder how I could weigh mine??
As a violinist, my scalenes are very overworked and tight, and this post was a great refresher on ways to bring relief to this area! I love the Ardha Savasana deep breathing you suggest, I will be incorporating that more into my daily practice.
Thanks for sharing this easy enough stretch to do to relieve the tension in the neck. I definitely have ongoing problem with the neck muscles so I will be using the video technique a lot. I felt the stretch all the way to my jaw. I will share that with all the neck tension sufferers I know.
What a great ideas for loving my scalenes as they are very overworked. It’s amazing noticing the change in which muscles are being used to hold up the head when shifting the head back. The video on stretching the platysma might be my favorite video of Jill’s that I’ve seen so far!!
Thank you for the simple and practical self-care tips for the Scalenes! As I sit here doing YTU HW, I find myself very forward so it was great to be reminded to put my ears back over my shoulders and take a few minutes of self-care to keep myself going! Thanks!
The scalene stretch in the video has become one of my new favorites. I do it several times a day if I have been sitting at my desk for too long. I also incorporate it into my warm up when teaching yoga. People often have an “oh wow” moment and say they will try to do the stretch at home. Yay for self-care!
It is easy to forget how heavy our heads are, and how even just a small adjustment can make such a huge difference! I spend nearly my entire day in front of the computer, driving, cooking, etc. so this should really help!
The scalene & platisma stretch is a very simple homework assignment to give to clients. There is a great rush of blood to the tissues at the front of the neck really hydrating the tissue. It’s getting to the fascia which is affecting all of the structures below too.
LOVED this, thank you – spending the minute doing this video made such a difference to how my neck was feeling after sitting at the computer for a couple of hours. Even though I start out in good alignment, becoming absorbed in my work, or tired, means I start to fall into slouchy-ness and head forward….and neck tension. Now for the Supraclavicle Scrub Out!
Thank you for the ques of proper alignment during Ardha Savasana. I really enjoyed the video the scalene stretch is so easy to do anywhere. It felt great and will be forever in my toolbox.
AHHHH! thank you. And my platysma and scalenes thank you! I had been doing the pull down the front of my neck for the platysma, but the added “Marlon Brando” stretch was the icing on the cake!!!
This neck stretch felt great! I will add it in more often to my other stretches for my shoulder.
The “Supraclavicle Scrub Out” is such a great YTU therapy ball technique for the tension in my scalenes! I also enjoyed the self-massage technique in the video. I’m trying to pay more attention to my head posture. It’s such a challenge with all of the computer work and smartphone use these days. Great article!
Ed, simply sitting and standing with your neck in good alignment can help to tone the scales since this puts them at their proper length, allowing them to function and fire as they were designed to. The massage and stretching techniques also help them to contract properly. Also, you can do some isometric neck exercises: place hand on forehead and resist neck flexion, place a hand on the side of your head and resist lateral flexion and rotation.
Chris, altho using a Coregeous® Ball under your neck may be comfortable, I do recommend also trying to lay as flat as possible while in half corpse pose (use a small book or folded towel under your head if you feel that your head is tilted back). This helps your body to rest in a position that is closer to “ideal alignment” and gives your brain input about what it feels like to have your head over your shoulders where it should be 🙂
This felt great. I often feel I am losing the battle against “text neck.” Always a good reminder to be more mindful of our posture.
I really enjoyed the video as it is one I don’t believe I’ve seen before and I want to start using it. I’m wondering what types of exercises might tone the scalenes.
Super, the neck and scalenes often forgotten…brings awareness to correct postural alignment – ear over shoulders
I find using the Coreageous Ball under my neck while in half corpse pose provides relief.
Thank you for the reminder to keep our heads in a neutral space — too often I jut my head forward, and sadly it is becoming part of my regular posture. I will aim to improve my head/neck posture, and notice if that decreases tension in my neck. I LOVED Jill’s short video on front massaging the front of the neck. This area is so often overlooked — even by massage therapists during a massage session. Her ‘imitation’ of Marlon Brando while performing the stretch was the cherry on the top 🙂
I’m using this in my class tonight! 🙂
This is very helpful to myself and my fellow office dwellers. I also enjoyed Jill’s humor in the video; her personality shines through.
Thank you for the reminder that laying on the floor in Ardha Svasana, with a properly positioned head, is an effective pose for relieving neck pain. I also enjoyed the video of Jill Miller simply using her hands to stretch the neck and platysma. Because these movements require no special equipment, they might be more accessible and acceptable to neck suffers unaccustomed to yoga or self massage.
Really enjoyed realignment tips for ears over shoulders…