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Splenius Capitis Anatomy: Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

Splenius Capitis Anatomy

Splenius Capitis Anatomy
Origin: Lower half of the nuchal ligament, the spinous processes and supraspinous ligaments of C7 to T3
Insertion: Lateral occipital bone, between the superior and inferior nuchal lines
Action: Extends the head and cervical spine, Lateral flexion of the head and cervical spine
Innervation: Dorsal Rami of (C3, C4)
Blood Supply:  Descending branches of the occipital artery and the superior intercostal artery, via dorsal rami of the upper two posterior intercostal arteries

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

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

For Pain and Symptom Information See:  Splenius Capitis: Pain at the Top of the Head

Primary Actions of the Splenius Capitis:

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

  • Agonists: Longissimus capitis, Spinalis capitis, Semispinalis capitis, Sternocleidomastoid (anterior fibers)
  • Antagonists: Longus Capitis, Sternocleidomastoid (anterior fibers)

2.Lateral Flexion of the head and cervical spine when acting unilaterally

  • Agonists: Sternocleidomastoid
  • Antagonists: Same muscles on opposite side (Sternocleidomastoid)

Secondary Action of the Splenius Capitis:

1. Assists with ipsilateral rotation of the head and cervical spine when acting unilaterally

  • Agonists: None
  • Antagonists: None

Musculoskeletal Anatomy Flashcards

Musculoskeletal Anatomy Flashcards Musculoskeletal Flashcards Are you a student or professional therapist who needs to brush up on the musculoskeletal system? Dr. Joseph E. Muscolino DC has developed a comprehensive set of flashcards that will help develop a mind’s picture of exactly where the muscles lie under the skin. A highly recommended study aid for students. Great for non students who want an easy comprehensive anatomy guide.

Basic Clinical Massage Therapy


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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