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80 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k m a rc h /a p r i l 2 0 2 1 The sternocleidomastoid (SCM) is one of those muscles massage therapists tend to avoid because cautions are raised when learning how to work on the anterior neck. When first approaching this area in our training in school, many red flags are raised by our instructors; understandably so—no one wants to get sued. (If your school and your teachers didn't warn you to be careful, that is an even bigger worry.) The truth is, though, that the SCM can be manipulated to ease a lot of tension in the head and neck—if you know what you are doing. If you know where the carotid artery is; the depth of the jugular vein; the proximity to the esophagus; the innervation of the spinal accessory nerve; the origin, insertion, and action of the SCM itself; and the right techniques to apply—you're golden! Easy, right? Well, that is indeed a lot to remember. And this is only one tiny portion of anatomy. Bodywork around the piriformis, the adductors, and the subscapularis (to name a few) can be equally as daunting. What happens when we hit a nerve or compress a vein? What happens if we work too deeply? What if we actually hurt someone? Being careful is part of the bodyworker's mantra, after all. The Hippocratic oath was put forth for this exact reason. Do no harm. We are here to help, not hurt. But what if the fear around the work overtakes the ability to actually do the work? Practicing while you were a student wasn't quite enough. The brevity of the average massage therapy program is only matched by the speed of its delivered content. And most likely, your classmates' feedback was full of false praise. It is so much easier to be encouraging than it is to provide legitimate constructive criticism. Then, once you are out in the real world working with real clients, staying safe feels pretty logical. And staying comfortable is just too easy. Pretty soon, you are five years in and still avoiding the SCM like the plague. The Muscle, the Beast, and a Cup of Tea Conquering Sternocleidomastoid Fears BY ALLISON DENNEY technique | THE REBEL MT WHEN FEAR KNOCKS The question is, how will you know when you know what you know? Or, in other words, when will you feel confident to work in an area you have been given warnings about? The answer is actually buried deep in your relationship to fear. It is very easy to let fear take over—in bodywork and in life. It is a beast and can be extraordinarily intimidating. Fear is like a bully who pokes you right on the sternum just to remind you it is in charge. It wants to intimidate you and keep you in your place. There are lots of things to be frightened of, after all. Pinching a nerve. Bruising. Inflammation. Coronavirus. Politics. Social media.

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