Skeletal muscles are particularly important to the human body because they allow it to move freely.

They are responsible for movements that the body performs arbitrarily and actively, such as the movement of the arms and legs. They also belong to the striated muscle, because they have fine horizontal stripes, which gives a periodic, repeating pattern. The Musculus rectus capitis lateralis belongs to the striated musculature.

What is the rectus capitis lateralis muscle?

The term "lateral rectus capitis muscle" is Latin and stands for "straight lateral head muscle".

This muscle is small, short and flat, located at the side of the first head joint deep in the neck. He belongs to the secondary back muscles, but not to the autochthonous back muscles ("local back muscles"), as he is intervened by the anterior ramus; however, the rectus capitis lateralis muscle also belongs to the neck muscles. The origin of the Musculus rectus capitis lateralis lies in the so-called transverse process (Transverse Process) of the first cervical vertebra. Transverse processes are paired bone tissues of a vertebra.

Anatomy & Construction

The Musculus rectus capitis lateralis belongs to the striated musculature and is thus lined with an envelope of connective tissue (fascia), which also encloses some meat fibers.

Each of these meat fibers can be divided into several fiber bundles, which are also called primary bundles: these are stored so that they can move each other, so the muscle is flexible and adaptable. The primary bundle consists of twelve muscle fibers, which are connected by connective tissue and thin, fine blood vessels.

The "lateral straight head muscle" becomes active by tensing, thus contracting and shortening. Then it is relaxed again and the muscle is extended (relaxation). Shortening of the muscles is triggered by the brain or the spinal cord transmitting electrical impulses via the nerves.

A transversely mature muscle is also called syncytium. This is a cell that consists of myoblasts and thus contains nuclei. The Syncytium is unable to divide, so when losing muscle fibers no new regrowth and adjacent fibers only thicken. At the neck, the rectus capitis lateralis muscle attaches to the jugular processus, a bony process of the occiput (the occiput), which forms the posterior part of the skullcap.

Function & Tasks

The purpose of the rectus capitis lateralis muscle is to assist in the movement of the head, especially in lateral movements. When the head tilts on one side, the small muscle shortens on one side and a contraction occurs.

In a contraction on both sides of a slight dorsal reflection of the head takes place: The short muscle can prevent the head to dorsal, ie to the back. When the head moves forward, the rectus capitis lateralis muscle (extension) extends. As a part of the secondary back and neck musculature, the rectus capitis lateralis muscle helps to move the spine, especially during extension.

Innervation is the treatment of an organ, a connective tissue or a body with nerve tissue (for example, nerve fibers and cells). Through the innervation, the control of processes and reactions in the body is carried out by stimulus perception and arousal.

The rectus capitis lateralis muscle is also innervated by special nerve tissue, the anterior rami of the spinal nerves, which originate in pairs from the spinal cord. They belong to the peripheral nervous system, the nervous system, which does not originate from the brain or spinal cord and is located outside the spinal canal or the skull. The Rami anteriores arise from the spinal segments C1 and C2, these are the first two sections of the spinal cord. Through the C1 and C2, the innervation takes place in the rectus capitis lateralis muscle and this muscle thus receives the necessary nerve tissue.


As part of the neck musculature, various discomforts and diseases can occur in the rectus capitis lateralis muscle, such as neck tension, in particular triggered by the small muscle.

The biggest cause of neck tension today is bad posture and stress in everyday life. The permanent work in the office can lead to a muscular dysbalance and manifest in the form of a neck tension. The Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrome is characterized by regular neck strain due to repeated movements, which can increase the strain on the lateral rectus muscle and cause tension throughout the body.

Pain in the back of the head can also be caused by neck tension, which can be triggered by the rectus capitis lateralis muscle. The causes of back pain can vary widely, but neck muscle tension is likely.

In a tension no medication is needed, here only helps heat and relaxation, so that the muscles can relax and relax the tense position of the muscles. Cold and heat treatment may also be helpful as the rectus capitis lateralis muscle may come out of its shortened position, thus relieving tension.

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