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?
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.
Splenius cervicis inserts on the transverse processes of the vertebrae from C1 to C3. Splenius capitis inserts onto the posterior mastoid process.
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.
Chaturanga also requires the head to be held by muscles on the back of the neck in order to prevent it from falling!
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.