Stretches for the Omohyoid Muscle
The omohyoid muscle is a small muscle in the neck that originates at the upper border of the scapula and inserts into the hyoid bone, which anchors the tongue. The omohyoid depresses and stabilizes the hyoid bone, the unarticulated bone located between the chin and thyroid cartilage that provides the foundation for speech. Injury or tightness in the muscle can lead to pain in the neck and shoulder. Because of its location deep in the neck, the omohyoid muscle can be difficult to isolate and stretch.
Head Tilt Stretch
To do the head tilt stretch, stand or sit upright with your arms hanging directly alongside your torso. Stretch the right omohyoid muscle by pressing your right hand toward the floor as though you are pressing it into a table. Isolate the movement so that only the right arm moves, and your body remains still and neutral. This action drops the shoulder away from the ear. Leaving the hand and body in place, gently bring the left ear towards the left shoulder. Once you reach your full range of motion, hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Slowly release the stretch, bringing your head upright. Repeat on the opposite side to stretch the left omohyoid muscle.
Head Tilt and Grasp Stretch
A variation on the head tilt stretch, grasping a table can help you isolate the omohyoid muscle and maintain the correct body position. The stretch requires a bar or surface with a graspable edge -- such as a table -- at thigh height. To stretch the right omohyoid muscle, stand with your right side next to the table. Grasp the corner of the table top with your right hand. Gently bring your left ear towards your left shoulder. Once you reach your full range of motion, hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Slowly release the stretch, bringing your head upright. Repeat on the opposite side to stretch the left omohyoid muscle.
Head Tilt and Hand Press Stretch
Stretch your omohyoid muscle with your hand by standing or sitting upright with your arms hanging by your sides. Place your left hand directly beneath your right collar bone with your fingers pointed toward the top of the right shoulder. Press down gently, applying light pressure to the upper part of the pectoral muscles. Tilt your head slightly back and to the left. Hold this position for 30 to 45 seconds. Slowly release the stretch, bringing your head upright. Repeat on the opposite side to stretch the left omohyoid muscle.
When to Consult Your Doctor
Pain or spasms in your omohyoid muscle can occur after intense use, such as vomiting excessively, or when an inflammatory condition is present. Symptoms can include pain in your neck, jaw, shoulder, collarbone area, arm and hand. If stretching exercises do not relieve your pain or discomfort, consult your healthcare provider for advice and treatment.
Kristin Shea has been writing professionally since 2008. Her fitness works include a yoga manual and Skincare News. She has acquired extensive legal writing experience during more than 10 years of legal practice. Shea is a licensed attorney and certified yoga instructor. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from University of Florida and a Juris Doctor from University of Miami Law School.