Your Suboccipital muscles are actually 4 pairs of muscles that connect your occipital bone (the back part of your skull) to your upper neck. Your Occiput sits on top of your 1st cervical vertebra called “C1” or “Atlas”. The 2nd cervical vertebra is named “C2” or the “Axis.” These muscles are highly effected by the alignment of your occiput and upper neck. I check the alignment of these 3 vertebrae on every single patient every single adjustment because of their critical importance.
Over 50% of the nerve feedback from your body to your brain (called proprioception) happens in this upper cervical part of your spine. If you are subluxated in this area it literally has the potential to effect ANY and ALL of your bodily functions.
The first 2 muscles we’ll discuss today are found in the blue and orange colors. Both of these get their power from the nerves exiting the spine between C1-3, making alignment of these upper 3 neck bones extremely important. Not only are there bone and muscle connections, but actually attachments to your “dura mater.” Dura Mater is the thick membrane that is the outermost of the three layers of the meninges that surround your brain and your spinal cord.
- Rectus capitis posterior major (BLUE) goes from the spinous process of the axis (C2) to the occipital bone.
- Rectus capitis posterior minor (ORANGE) goes from the middle of the posterior arch of the atlas (C1) to the occipit.
The third muscle connects your skull to your C1 vertebra. It gets it’s nerve power from the C1 nerve and also the sub- occipital nerve.
- Obliquus capitis superior (GREEN) goes from the transverse process of the atlas (C1) to the occiput.
The fourth muscle actually doesn’t attach to your skull at all, it attaches your C1 and C2 vertebrae to one another.
- Obliquus capitis inferior (RED) goes from the spine of the axis (C2) vertebra to the transverse process of the atlas (C1).
So, the next time you have a stiff neck or headache or hear of someone complaining of these, you’ll now have a bit more insight to how your body was put together! But, the critical thing to know is waiting for these muscles to give you a pain or symptom is NOT wise…get your alignment checked regularly SO THAT things keep working well. Get well and stay well, that’s our philosophy!