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Semispinalis Capitis Anatomy: Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

Semispinalis Capitis AnatomySemispinalis Capitis Anatomy

Origin:Tips of the transverse processes of C7 to T7, the articular processes of C4 to C6 and occasionally from the spinous process of C7 or T1

Insertion: Medial part of the area between the superior and inferior nuchal lines of the occipital bone, blending with the spinalis thoracis
Action: Extension, rotation and lateral flexion of the head and cervical spine.
Innervation: Dorsal primary rami of C4 to T6
Blood Supply: Descending branches of the occipital artery and the superior intercostal artery, via the dorsal rami of the upper two posterior intercostal arteries

Synergist: Semispinalis cervicis, Splenius capitis and cervicis, Spinalis cervicis, Interspinales, Longissimus cervicis, Iliocostalis cervicis, Multifidus.

Antagonist: Sternocleidomastoid, Longus colli and capitis, Scalenus anterior, medius, and posterior

Primary Actions of the Semispinalis Capitis:

1. Extension of the head and cervical spine when acting bilaterally

  • Agonists: Longissimus Cervicis,  Spinalis Capitis, Splenius Capitis, Sternocleidomastoid (posterior fibers)
  • Antagonists: Longus Capitis, Sternocleidomastoid (posterior fibers)

2. Contralateral rotation of the head and cervical spine when acting unilaterally

  • Agonists: Sternocleidomastoid
  • Antagonists: Sternocleidomastiod on the opposite side

Secondary Actions of the Semisplinalis Capitis:

3. Assists with lateral flexion of the head and cervical spine when acting unilaterally

  • Agonists: Splenius Capitis and Sternocleidomastoid
  • Antagonists: Splenius Capitis and Sternocleidomastoid on the opposite side.

For more information: Semispinalis Capitis Neck and Head Pain

Recommended Anatomy Booksbasic_clinical_massa

Out of the scores of books in my office Basic Clinical Massage Therapy is by far the most referenced book in my library. The musculoskeletal system is overlaid on human models allowing you to learn the precise location, origin and insertions of each muscle. The models are pictured in various poses throughout the book which also helps you visualize muscles in motion and their actions relationship with the skeletal structure and other muscles. Though it is written for massage therapists, it is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn about the muscular system. MT’s will benefit from recommended treatments for each muscle.


The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook – Claire Davies, Amber Davies, and David G. Simons

Basic Clinical Massage Therapy: Integrating Anatomy and Treatment – James H. Clay and David M. Pounds

Trigger Point Therapy for Myofascial Pain – Donna Finando and Steven Finando

Massage Therapy Principles and Practice – Susan Salvo

Theory & Practice of Therapeutic Massage – Mark Beck


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