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Sub-Occipitals Supine – Neuromuscular Massage Protocol

This neuromuscular protocol treats the sub-occipital muscles, loosening the atlantooccipital and atlantoaxial regions, often preparing for other work. Included are links to mobilizations taken from Integrative Bodywork – Somatic Mobilizations. These two protocols work well together, These two protocols offer relief to a surprising number of problems of pain and dysfunction throughout the body. Many practitioners work primarily on upper cervical regulation in their practice. The techniques here are a proven approach for the bodywork professional.

The post on therapy notes for suboccipital muscles fits this protocol into an integrative treatment sequence. Hence, it is more effective. You may also want to look at this protocol for anterior suboccipital muscles.

Musculoskeletal Anatomy

About these Illustrations…

These muscles strap the head onto the top two vertebrae and stabilize that movement. Read more in this post about suboccipital muscles.

Beforehand, prepare by mobilizing the AO joint.

This protocol is easier on the client and practitioner when the atlantooccipital joint has been mobilized. This post has several approaches from decompression to intraoral work.

NOTE: This protocol is for mindful review by an experienced therapist. It is intended for learning with the hands-on training of a professional instructor. One should only do this with the necessary expertise to understand contraindications. Proper techniques are essential for safe and effective treatment.


This routine is from The WorkBook of Classical Neuromuscular Therapy. Created at the ASHA School of Massage, it has trained thousands of therapists for more than 15 years.

These routines are intended for mindful review by bodywork professionals and are not appropriate as self-care for non-professionals. Self-injury could occur.

Click here for the growing list of protocols that are available online.

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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia, where he sees clients. He has written materials and instructed classes since the mid-90s. This includes anatomy, trigger points, cranial, and neuromuscular.

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*This site is undergoing significant changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make them easier to read. The result will also be more accessible and include more patterns with better self-care. Meanwhile, there may be formatting, content presentation, and readability inconsistencies. Until we get older posts updated, please excuse our mess.