Massage & Bodywork

November/December 2012

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education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH Splenius Capitis By Christy Cael The splenius capitis muscle is located on the posterior neck, deep to the trapezius. It has a broad origin on the nuchal ligament and spinous processes of the lower cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae. The muscle fi bers extend superiorly and laterally from the spine to the base of the skull, and the insertion is strong and thick on the mastoid process of the temporal bone and lateral occiput. The strap-like fi bers of the splenius capitis are most superfi cial near the top of the posterior triangle of the neck between the sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius. The entire muscle may be palpated when the overlying trapezius and rhomboid are relaxed. Together, the splenius capitis and sternocleidomastoid form an inverted "V" on the lateral neck. The sternocleidomastoid extends anteriorly from the mastoid process to the sternum and medial clavicle, while the splenius capitis extends posteriorly to the spinous processes. Posturally, this muscular "V" centers the head front to back over the trunk and shoulder girdle. Together, the right and left sides help center the head from side to side, front to back, and rotationally. These two muscles also strongly pull the head to one side or the other when activated unilaterally. The splenius capitis is large and broad, making it an effective prime mover for extension, lateral fl exion, and rotation of the head and neck. It has all the same actions as the splenius cervicis, but attaches more laterally and superiorly, giving it better leverage for lateral fl exion and rotation. The splenius capitis, splenius cervicis, and levator scapulae combine efforts to rotate the head to the same side and oppose the rotational efforts of the trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, and anterior scalene. Balanced mobility and activation of these muscles is critical to optimal cervical alignment, range of motion, and head posture. Tension headaches are often the result of forward head posture and associated hypertonicity in the splenius capitis, splenius cervicis, and sternocleidomastoid. Splenius capitis SPLENIUS CAPITIS Attachments • Origin: Nuchal ligament and spinous processes of C7–T3 • Insertion: Mastoid process of temporal bone and lateral portion of superior nuchal line of the occiput Actions • Extends head and neck (bilateral action) • Laterally fl exes head and neck (unilateral action) • Rotates head and neck toward same side (unilateral action) Innervation • Dorsal rami of cervical spinal nerves www.abmp.com. See what benefits await you. 49

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