-The Suboccipital muscles (which include Rectus capitis posterior major, rectus capitis posterior minor, obliquus capitis inferior, and obliquus capitis superior) are 4 small muscles located right below the base of the skull/occiput of the head. They are running each in different angles connecting the top two vertebrae’s to the skull and to each other.
-trigger points are often seen within thes subboccipiatls secondary to whiplash injuries, FORWARD-HEAD POSTURE, emotional tension, or postural stress; which leads to the classic CERVICOGENIC HEADACHE'S.
-When these muscles are triggered you may feel pain that feels like it’s inside of the head extending from the back of the head to the eye/forehead, it will typically hurt on only one side of the head.
The three upper suboccipitals on each side will primarily control upper cervical nodding/tilting, when afflicted with trigger points this motion can be limited. The lowest of the suboccipitals, obliquus capitis inferior, connects the top two vertebrae, where most of the rotation of the head occurs at (between C1 and C2). When this muscle is triggered one’s rotation may be limited and/or reproduce sharp neck pain with rotation of the neck.
Here I demonstrate how to release the suboccipitals with a peanut by @mobloko (use claimcode PREHAB10 for $10 off):
-First, I find my suboccipitals right below my occiput then place it on the peanut. Then I begin to take the muscles through it’s range by passively chin tucking which will flex the upper cervical spine.
-Second, I move the ball slightly inferior to target more of the oliquus capitas inferior and begin to passively rotate my neck.
Notice how I passively go through the range with assistance of my hand vs. actively flex and rotate my neck.
Note: There are important neurovascular structures such as the vertebral artery and suboccipital nerve that exit the suboccipital triangle. Therefore, it is important for these muscles to have flexibility so there is no impingement on these structures.