NMT Protocols – Sub-Occipitals Supine

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

Effective relief starts with an understanding of the anatomy.

About the coloring of the 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 and is not intended to be used for learning without hands-on training from a professional instructor. One should not attempt this without the necessary expertise to understand contraindications. It is important to use proper technique so that the treatment is safe and effective.

sub-occipital-supine

This routine is from The WorkBook of Classical Neuromuscular Therapy, which was created at the ASHA School of Massage and used to train 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.


This site is undergoing changes. Starting in early 2020, we began changing the format of the posts to include more extensive self-care, illustrations, therapist notes, anatomy, and protocols. We’d love your feedback. We are adding posts and converting the old posts as quickly as time permits.


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Tony Preston has a practice in Atlanta, Georgia where he sees clients. He has written and taught about anatomy, trigger points and cranial therapies since the mid-90s.

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