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September 5, 2014

Anatomy Lesson: Neck musculature

Neck Anatomy


Anterior Muscles

  • Scalenus ant/med/post- Run from C1-7 out to ribs 1-2 to perform rib elevation during inhalation, head side bend, and neck flexion.
  • Sternocleidomastoid (sternal/clavicular heads) aka SCOM- Runs from sternum and clavicle up to the temporal bone and occipital bone to perform head opposite side rotation and head extension.
  • Trapezius (descending part aka upper trap)- Runs from occiput bone out to the clavicle to perform scapular upward movement.
  • (there are additional smaller muscles for chewing surrounding the jaw)


Posterior Muscles

  • Rectus capitis posterior maj/min- Runs from C1/2 up to the occipital bone to perform head extension and same-side rotation.
  • Obliquus Capitis sup/inf-The superior portion runs from C1 to the occipital bone. The inferior portion runs from C1 spinous process to transverse process. They perform head extension and rotation.
  • Longus Capitis- Runs from C3-6 transverse processes up to the occipital bone to perform head flexion and same-side rotation.
  • Longus Colli sup/inf/med- Run from as low as T3 up to as high as C3 (depending on the division) up to C1-6 (depending on the division). They perform neck flexion, same-side rotation, and same side tilt.
  • Rectus capitis ant/lat- Run from C1 up to occipital bone to perform head flexion and side bending.
  • Splenius capitis/cervicis- Run from C7-T6 up to C0-2 to perform head and neck extension plus head same-side sidebending.
  • Muscles like Iliocostalis, Longissimus, Spinalis, Multifidus, Interspinales, & Intertransversarii extend far down into the lower back, so they are described in the “Back” blog post.
  • Levator Scapulae- Runs from C1-4 transverse processes out to the superior scapula to perform medial and upward scapular movement and neck same-side incline.


Perform these three stretches for 30 seconds each on the L and R.



1) Press your head against your hand for 5 seconds as you try to keep your head upright. 10x in each direction.

Isometric neck exercises after surgery

2) Chin Tucks- Lie down and tuck your chin to your chest as if making a double chin.



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