Splenius Muscles


December 19, 2017     muscle | neck | Anatomy | Torso

Splenius cervicis and splenius capitis

Let’s talk about the splenius muscles: Splenius cervicis and splenius capitis are located on the posterior side of the neck. They function in balance with the anterior neck muscles.

What does splenius mean?

The name splenius cervicis describes the shape and location of this muscle. Splenius is the Latin word for “patch”. Cervicis comes from the Latin word “cervix” which means neck. Splenius cervicis then, looks like a patch located on the neck. The name splenius capitis also describes the shape and location of this muscle. As we just said, splenius is the Latin word for “patch”. Capitis is a Latin word which means head. Splenius capitis then, looks like a patch located on the head.

Where do the splenius muscles attach?

Origin

Splenius cervicis originates on the spinous processes of the vertebrae from T3 to T6. Splenius capitis originates on the spinous processes of the vertebrae from C7 to T3.

Insertion

Splenius cervicis inserts on the transverse processes of the vertebrae from C1 to C3. Splenius capitis inserts onto the posterior mastoid process.

The Splenius Capitis Muscle Attachments

The Splenius Cervicis Muscle Attachments

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What actions do the splenius muscles do?

Both splenius capitis and splenius cervicis function bilaterally (both sides) to extend the neck. Additionally, they both function unilaterally to laterally flex the neck and rotate the neck to the same side.

Poses where the splenius muscles contract

The splenius cervicis and splenius capitis work together. So, we’ll see both splenius muscles working if we look at postures where we have to hold our neck up, such as shalabhasana. This is because the neck is in extension and/or hyperextension.

shalabasana

Chaturanga also requires the head to be held by muscles on the back of the neck in order to prevent it from falling!

chaturanga dandasana

Poses where the splenius muscles are lengthened

Halasana requires the head and neck to be in a flexed position. So, this means that these muscles are going to be lengthened because they are neck extenders.

halasana

Trigger points

Trigger Points in the Splenius Capitis Muscle

Trigger Points in the Splenius Cervicis Muscle