The sternohyoid muscle is a muscle that belongs to the human skeletal muscle. His path runs from the chin down to the sternum. He belongs to the hyoid muscles.

What is the sternohyoid muscle?

The sternohyoid muscle is called sternum-hyoid bone muscle. Its shape is narrow and its path runs perpendicular to the neck. During the swallowing act, he pulls down the hyoid bone. This clears the way for ingested food and food to the stomach.

It is a bilateral muscle that runs along the outside of the neck. In the front center of the neck, both strands are connected by connective tissue. The sternohyoid muscle is instrumental in performing a smooth swallowing process. As soon as it contracts, the hyoid bone moves and opens the way into the esophagus. This happens with the onset of the swallowing reflex.

The hyoid bone is fixed to the base of the skull. This is done by ligaments and the muscles that innervate the hyoid bone. In this way it gets a swing function. On the lower side are the larynx and trachea. Thus, the hyoid bone is in a direct connection with processes such as phonotonia, breathing, the opening of the jaw, swallowing and coughing. The hyoid bone is a small curved bone below the tongue.

Anatomy & Construction

The sternohyoid muscle belongs to the striated musculature of humans. His muscle fibers are arranged in a pattern and repeated periodically.

This has the consequence that transverse stripes arise. It is a narrow muscle and one of four muscles that are assigned to the lower hyoid muscles. These include the omohyoideus muscle, the sternohyoid muscle, the sternothyroid muscle and the thyrohyoid muscle. The path of the sternohyoid muscle begins at the posterior side of the sternum. This is referred to by medical professionals as Manubrium Sterni. There, the musculus sternohyoideus finds its origin at the end of the clavicle, the clavicle.

He pulls cranially to the lower edge of the hyoid bone. This is the Os hyoidem. Seen from the outside, the sternohyoid muscle runs vertically between the breastbone and the chin. The supply of the sternohyoid muscle via the nerve fibers from the Ansa cervicalis profunda. This is a nerve loop that is made up of branches of the nerve plexus. The nerve network is called the cervical plexus.

Function & Tasks

The sternohyoid muscle has two major functions. Together with various other muscles in the mouth and throat area, the sternohyoid muscle is involved in the very complex act of swallowing the human organism. This is divided into different mechanisms. The first is the controlled and deliberately induced part.

This includes the intake of food and liquids. This is controlled consciously. After grinding the food, they pass through the tongue from the oral cavity into the throat. There, the willful control passes into an automatic process that can no longer be regulated. It comes to a swallowing reflex. This transports the absorbed substances from the pharynx into the esophagus. In this process, the trachea must be closed. Only then is it guaranteed that no food, liquids or saliva can reach the stomach via the esophagus.

Within the swallowing reflex, different muscles work together within seconds. The sternohyoid muscle is responsible for moving the hyoid bone downwards. He belongs to the infrahyal musculature. This means that it belongs to the lower hyoid muscles. To differentiate this is the suprahyal musculature. This is assigned to the upper hyoid muscles. Your task is in addition to the swallowing act, the support of the jaw opening. Once the suprahyal muscles are active, the sternohyoid muscle determines the hyoid bone. This is the second task of the sternohyoid muscle.


There are several diseases that affect the functional performance of the sternohyoid muscle. Almost all ailments of the throat and upper neck area can cause discomfort during swallowing.

In everyday life, it can lead to scalding and burns when taking too hot drinks or dishes in the mouth to the throat. The mucous membranes are attacked by it and in severe cases, there is a formation of bubbles. Defects in the mucous membranes cause difficulty swallowing. In addition, they have an influence on the sound. The most common disorders associated with the sternohyoid muscle are inflammation and infarction. Both are associated with restrictions of the swallowing act. With enlargements of the lymph or almonds, for example with an Angina, it comes to a constriction of the neck entrance. The swallowing process is complicated and often associated with a pain sensation. Paralysis or damage of the nerve fibers from the ansa cervicalis profunda lead to the fact that the musculus sternohyoideus is not innervated. He also shows signs of paralysis.

If there are new edemas of the tissue through edema, cysts or carcinomas, this also results in a narrowing of the esophagus. The canal between the pharynx and the upper part of the larynx is no longer free and causes discomfort during swallowing. The larynx is completely surrounded by various cartilages. These are good palpable from the outside of the neck. Cartilage is not as stable as bone. Therefore, damage from outside due to accidents or falls can damage the cartilage. Since the larynx is involved in swallowing and voice formation as a whole, direct effects are expected.

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