Best NEW tool for neck self myofascial release: scalenes and SCMs

Those poor scalenes and SCMs. With the rise in cell phone use (not to mention computers in general), people can be seen everywhere staring down into their hands. What you may not see but likely FEEL is the impact on your cervical spine and all the muscles supporting your spine and head…because chances are, if you live in the modern world and own a phone, you’re seriously overstretching some muscles and fascia, while contracting other tissue into a constantly cramped position.

When you look down at your phone it’s like putting 60lbs of pressure on your cervical spine. This automatically engages all the muscles that support your spine, as they get recruited to stabilize, nudge you back to neutral (or beg you to get there, in some cases).  

Your anterior neck muscles and their fascia get incredibly restricted, shortened and tight if you are constantly looking down. I’m specifically referring to your SCMs and scalenes. SCM stands for sternocleidomastoid, which are muscles that run from your clavicle to your jaw/ear junction.

The scalenes (anterior, middle and posterior) attach to your first and second ribs…so you can imagine the impact this might have if they shorten too much.

The scalenes are of particular concern when it comes to the health of your cervical spine, your ribs and everything that the ribs contain and/or impact in turn (like your organs, breathing capacity, thoracic spine etc). The SCMs are more likely to affect your jaw, face and head (TMJ, tension headaches, neck lymph blockage etc).

Releasing this fascia effectively can be tricky. Remember, to release fascia effectively we want to compress and shear fascial fibers in order to increase space and blood distribution, activate fasciacytes and increase the water content of your fascia via the creation of hyaluronic acid (synthesized by fasciacytes, which are activated by compression and shearing).

I recently tried a new tool called a Rad Roller (it’s the original from the company Rad), and I love it for releasing neck fascia.

I’ll demo for you exactly how to use it in the video above.

Full disclosure: if you purchase a Rad Roller through my link, I do get a small affiliate commission. Please know I never recommend anything I don’t use myself and find of great value.

The reason I love the Rad Roller for the neck is because now I can release my neck ANYWHERE. I don’t need a pole that can only be found in a gym, I don’t need a specific wall or risky door frame, and I don’t have to balance my weight on a ball held in place with my other hand.

Because this tool is essentially two balls fused together, it’s easy to hold while you pin your neck fascia and release it through head movement.

Watch the video for the demo, and if you want to own the Rad Roller then click my link here.

Your purchase supports everything I’m doing at Mobility Mastery and helps me continue to offer great FREE content on the blog and YouTube channel.

Did you try this technique? Share your experience below! Are you waiting to order a Rad Roller? Let me know you’re ordering one by commenting, I’d love to thank you for supporting me while supporting your body!

  • Heather L says:

    Hello. I came across your YouTube video looking for a tool to help release my neck (SCMs, scalenes, levator scap, etc) as they are always rock hard and when I get a massage, the masseuses always tell me I need to work on that area daily myself. Anyhow, I have used my own hand/fingers or other objects to help essentially do the same thing you are showing/promoting with the original rad roller. My question is, what if my hand/arm I am using to hold the tool gets fatigued/tired/cramps up a bit right away when trying this technique? Would that be something that over time will improve the more I do the exercise or is that indicative of something more serious?

  • clairebeach says:

    Hiya, I just revisited this video as I had a terrible tension headache. Since getting the peanut ball which has been a brilliant tool, I’ve been able to ward off headaches but occasionally things get so tight nothing seems to help. I spent longer doing it today and at the moment feel some relief. I use the peanut a few times a day. My neck scalenes are horrible. They seemed adhered in some areas and noisy when I use my hands my husband can hear the sounds they make. Crazy. The positive, I had tension headaches most days until doing this technique. Very great full for you sharing this. I do the arms, deltoids as well. My head does jot forward, so that doesn’t help. Just typing can start them off.. This little nugget will go everywhere with me. I recommend it to musician friends and their loving it. Cheers. C.

  • Cassidy says:

    Thanks Elisha,
    Great info. I believe I share your philosophy, that one tool does not do all body parts better than any other tool. I have a basket of myofascial tools, as each of them have their forte. Collectively I can target all regions of the body.

  • Jordan says:

    I am experimenting with the Rad Rollar, thanks for sharing this useful tool. I have been following your protocol from your very comprehensive video YOUR NECK ISN’T THE CAUSE (of your neck pain). Thank you so much for giving us a sequence to follow. I have been doing the complete series of fascia release for a few weeks and the biggy for me was the deltoid, HUGE releases that freed my clavicle bones from underneath rolled shoulders (I have not seen the outer third of my clavicles in decades) so WOO HOO Thank you Elishia!!!, NO other method helped me.

    I am however in a quandary about how to proceed. The front of my neck and SCM’s are always painful and the back of my head and neck are even worse, very painful/super tight/restricted motion, i.e.; Levator Scapulae, selenium capitis & crevices, semispinalis capitis, longissimus capitis (the deep neck muscles).

    Since you teach that the location of pain is rarely the source of the pain, and both the front and back of the neck are still tight and in pain, what should folks like me who have traumatic neck/head injuries in our history try next?

    Filled with gratitude for you and your mission!

    • Hey Jordan – you are a perfect candidate for my online course: Fascia Release 101. Your enthusiasm and commitment shine through every time you post. My courses would walk you through all of this and take out so much of the guesswork. I’m about to get really busy answering hundreds of comments inside my course, so will probably be less active on the blog and YouTube. I only open enrollment once per year, and this is it for 2019 (registration closes on Wednesday). I get so many sad emails from people like you who miss the opportunity to join a course of mine, so I’m just trying to make sure you know it’s an option to get more support from me and other active members. You can check it out here: https://mobilitymastery.mykajabi.com/how-to-create-mind-body-freedom

      If not, no worries. You can feel tension and call it pain, and it’s different to me than nerve or joint pain. So you can definitely release tight/tense/painful fascia! Hope that helps 🙂

      • Jordan says:

        Thank you Elisha,

        I was not sure if the scope of your courses could help people with myofascial pain syndrome/connective tissue disorders and PTSD type nervous system issues or not.

        • YES. YES. YES. I actually believe people with myofascial pain syndrome and PTSD might benefit the most. Regarding the PTSD, I would say these courses are best for people who already recognize their body is holding onto that trauma, and they want to work with their body to heal vs other avenues like talk therapy (which is awesome, but totally different). My course Mind Body Breakthrough is designed to help you pinpoint the origins of your pain – what is physical vs emotional vs a pattern playing on a loop etc. I think you’d get the most out of that course actually, but you’d also get 51 self help techniques professionally filmed (way better than my YouTube ones filmed with an iPhone) and a supportive community of people going through their own healing journey. I have people already enrolled who have fibromyalgia, connective tissue disorders, trauma, MS, and of course injuries like knee pain etc. I hope you’ll consider it. I am not shy about trying to enroll people I know will benefit. And if not, no worries! I will keep offering free content on this blog and YouTube 🙂

        • Ksenia says:

          Jordan, are you on the FB group? There might be other ones on there who deal with some of your same patterns and can offer tips. Since there is interaction, and people can ask you questions, I bet you can get several strategies to try. Of course Elisha is right though, that taking the course is best. I would do it if I could afford it right now. Something very powerful I heard about on a PT YT video (Bob and Brad) is about brachiation, or hanging. I did a little each day, and am trying to build this up, and I think it has helped in a lot of areas. This works in conjunction with Elisha’s upper body strategies. If I see you on there on FB, I will post some links and more details. On the herbal side, raspberry leaf tea, helps with mood, and there are other ones to try as well.

  • Craig says:

    I am ordering a Rad Roller. I am thinking of ordering the softer one instead of the standard.

    • I’m glad this felt helpful! A soft one is great. You can always adjust the pressure you use too.

  • Craig says:

    Thanks so much Elisha! Your words of encouragement helps me a lot. I live with a lot of fear and anxiety when it comes to my body. Having living with a body that seems to have a mind of its own makes it hard for me to be at ease and step out. I do some of the Qigong with Flowing Zen. I have done a little bit of myofacia with a program called the MELT METHOD. I look forward to following your video series. My ailment is a disease that the medical field is perplexed what causes it, other that it seems to be a neurological ailment. My mind is stuck in misery and I know if I can have a better outlook that I can enjoy my life it will help my physical symptoms. Thanks again

  • Craig says:

    Hello, I wondered if it would be good for someone like me who has cervical dystonia. The dystonia pulls my head to the right and my SCM on the left is clamped down and over active whereas my right SCM is underactive so I have an inbalance on the left and right side due to the connection of my nervous system to the neck. Just wondering if it is safe. Thank you.

    • Hey Craig – I can’t answer that definitively, since we all react differently. However I will say this: my belief is that we all have an inherent right (maybe you could call it a responsibility) as owners of our bodies, to get to know them, find out for ourselves what is safe vs unsafe and whether. Otherwise, you’ll always have to rely on other people to tell you what will work or not for your body. I’ve experimented on myself a lot. Sometimes it backfires. A lot of the time it gets results. What about trying ONE spot, for 20 seconds and see what happens? Fear tends to make pain worse, because it contracts our tissue in protection and gets us ready to run or fight. So the more you can relax into the exploration process, no matter what happens…the better your chances of only getting positive “data”. Hope that helps!

  • Vivianne says:

    Oops, I did miss the link for the Rad Roller. I see it now in the third to the last paragraph from the bottom. Sorry. and Thank you!

  • Vivianne says:

    Hi Elisha! Thanks so much! Just what I need! I didn’t see the link to buy the Rad Roller? Unless I missed it? Hope you can add it so those of us who want to purchase can support you! Much love.

  • >