Semispinalis Capitis Muscle

Muscle Anatomy of the Semispinalis Capitis

Origin: Tips of the transverse processes of C7 to T7, the articular processes of C4, C5, C6
Insertion: Medial part of the area between the superior and inferior nuchal lines of the occipital bone, blending with the spinalis thoracis
Actions: 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

Muscle Anatomy: Semispinalis Capitis Actions

Primary Actions of the Semispinalis Capitis

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


  • Longissimus capitis
  • Spinalis capitis
  • Splenius capitis
  • Sternocleidomastoid (posterior fibers)


  • Longus capitis
  • sternocleidomastoid (anterior fibers)

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


  • Trapezius (upper part)
  • Sternocleidomastoid

  Antagonists: Same muscles on contralateral side

  • Trapezius (upper part)
  • Sternocleidomastoid

Secondary Actions of the Semispinalis Capitis:

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


  • Splenius capitis
  • Sternocleidomastoid

  Antagonists: Same muscles on contralateral side

  • Splenius capitis
  • Sternocleidomastoid

Information about cause and effect of Semispinalis Capitis pain:

Semispinalis Capitis Neck and Head Pain

Recommended Anatomy Books:

Anatomy Coloring Book

The Anatomy Coloring Book is one of the best study and reference books for beginning anatomy students. The diagrams are clearly labeled and allow you to see the relationship and placement of the various structures of the body. You will also be surprised how the act of coloring will help with recall. But this is not just a beginners book, it is also great for practitioners and therapists to have on hand to use with clients and patients to use as a visual reference.

Human Muscle Anatomy

The Trail Guide To The Body is another excellent book to help you learn the musculature of the human body. Though the book is geared toward massage therapists and physical therapist assistants, the book with its illustrations and text helps anyone gain a thorough understanding of the human musculoskeletal system and movement. I highly recommend this book for anyone studying anatomy and believe that MTs, PTAs, and teachers of body movements should have this book in their possession. I also highly recommend this book for the lay person who wants to gain understanding of the muscle, skeletal system and how our bodies move. This book will not disappoint!

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.

Muscle Anatomy Flashcards

Musculoskeletal Anatomy 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.

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