Home » Therapist Notes – Splenius Capitis

Therapist Notes – Splenius Capitis

Neuromusuclar massage and integrative treatment notes with links to anatomy and protocols.

Start by Understanding the Anatomy.
About the coloring of the illustrations…

This muscle straps across the back of the neck and is involved in extending and rotating the head on the neck. This post tells you more about splenius capitis.

Splenius capitis originates from the lower cervicals and upper thoracics. It straps around the neck musculature and inserts on the occipital and temporal bones. That puts it in a perfect position to assist the contralateral sternocleidomastoid in rotating the head.

The splenii muscles also oppose the ipsilateral sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius in fighting Forward-Head Posture.

Trigger point referral from the splenii muscles also creates sensory and regulatory changes. Blurred vision, irritability, anxiety, and other fight or flight responses are relieved by the release of these referral patterns.

These trigger points are activated and perpetuated by an acute or prolonged extension of the head. It becomes worse then the chin juts forward and rotates to one side. This pattern can be released quickly, but the client often needs to be talked through changing perpetuating activities like screen watching and sleeping position.

Treatment protocols

Mobilizing the Atlas is key.

This trigger point sits just behind the atlas and is often predicated on an atlas fixation. Direct mobilization of the atlas can, at times, release the entire pattern.

Releasing displaced joints in the upper cervicals is also essential for lasting relief. Some clients can accomplish this with persistent ice and stretch self-care, but a good sub-occipital and lamina groove routine effectively to mobilize this area.

The first pass at this area mobilizes joints and to set up easier releases and longer-lasting results in the lower cervicals.

The trigger point that creates this referral is located just under the occipital ridge. After working on the cervical lamina and splenii tendons, revisit this area with massage, icing, or gentle stretching.

Releasing the splenii tendons.

This routine targets the tendons but can be rough on the thumb and painful for clients without the pre-release of the rib heads and anterior cervicals. This protocol is not as intense and does not need to go as deep for splenius capitis ad splenius cervicis.

Clean-up the cervical lamina.

Finish with clearing up joint fixations ad trigger points in the cervical lamina that may perpetuate the splenii trigger points. Make sure to extend those strokes along the lamina into the upper thoracics.

Revisit the suboccipital area to make sure that the splenius capitis trigger point has released.

The lower, anterior cervical musculature, especially the anterior scalenes and sternocleidomastoid may overpower and overstretch the splenii musculature. A combination of vertebral mobilization, treatment routines, and self-care for Forward-Head posture is often the key to lasting results.

If these are stubborn, starting or finishing with Ice-and-Stretch helps to broadly and more evenly release synergists.

Clients should follow up with Self-Care activities that help to relieve the pain and correct the structural problems that perpetuate them.

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 appreciate your input and feedback. You will see us adding posts and updating older posts as time permits.

Weekly Featured Post

Is the pain from
degenerative discs or
trigger points in the muscle?

This post discusses the differences in pain from disc problems and pain from trigger points. Who should you see to help with your pain?

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.

Question? Comment? Typo?
(404) 226-1363

*This site is undergoing major changes. We are reformatting and expanding the posts to make it easier to read, more accessible, and
to include more patterns with better self-care. In the meanwhile, there will be inconsistency in formatting, content, and readability until we get the old posts updated. Please excuse our mess.


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