The neck muscles are a very sensitive and important structure in our body. Not only does it enable us to perform numerous movements, it also stabilizes our spine and enables a healthy posture. An important muscle for this is the splenius muscle.

What is the splenius muscle?

The splenius muscle is a back muscle. It belongs to the group of skeletal muscles and is part of the lateral part of the musculus erector spinae, the autochthonous muscles of the spine.

The back muscles are of great importance for the movement of the upper body. These include the extension, rotation and side tilt. In addition, it represents a permanent stabilization of the spine. The back muscles can be considered as an active tension system as it strengthens the spine from the head to the pelvic girdle, including the ribs. Autochthonous back muscles are deep back muscles that are supplied by the spinal nerves at the back. The superficial back muscles are activated by the abdominal spinal nerves.

Autochthon means translated "created locally". This means that muscles that were created here are not hiked. The non-autochthonous muscles have grown to the back of the human development as an embryo and are located on the autochthonous muscles, that is superficial.

Anatomy & Construction

The autochthonous musculature is divided into three sections. The classification depends on nerve supply through the spinal nerve. The posterior branch, also called ramus posterior, of the spinal nerve supplies the dorsal muscles divided into two tracts.The medial tract is supplied posteriorly by the medial branch of the ramus, and posteriorly by the medial branch of the ramus, and posteriorly by the lateral branch of the ramus. The splenius muscle belongs to the lateral tract of the autochthonous back muscles.

The lateral tract lies between the transverse processes and the rib angle, also called Angulus costae. In addition to the attachment sites on transverse and spinous processes of the spine and the ribs, the muscles also on the skull or on the coccyx, the Os sacrum, on. The most efficient muscle is the extensor musculus longissimus. The plenius muscle consists of two parts, the splenius capitis and the splenius cervicis.

The splenius capitis has its origin close to the head of the spinal spine (processus spinosi) of the 3rd-7th. Cervical vertebrae, as well as the 1.-3. Thoracic vertebra. Another important point is the ligamentum nuchae, the neckband. Its approach is at the upper neck line (Linea nuchae superior).

The spleniius cervicis has its origin somewhat deeper at the spinal spine of the 3rd to 5th century. Thoracic vertebrae, as well as on the temporal bone (Proccesus mastoid) and the occipital bone (Occipitale) and attaches to the posterior cusps (tubercles posterior) of the bony process of the cervical vertebrae 1-3.

The general function of autochthonous back muscles is dorsiflexion or trunk erection. They take on this function because they lie dorsal to the transverse diffraction and extension axis (flexion and extension axis).

Function & Tasks

The function of the M. splenius is a Dorsalextension, ie head back tilt, by bilateral contraction of the muscle. This is also called head reclination, ie extension of the cervical spine.

In addition, a one-sided contraction allows rotation and lateral tilt of the head and cervical spine to the same side. Thus, the M. splenius with the other autochthonous muscles on the cervical and thoracic spine enables us to move as far as possible in all directions.


The muscles of the cervical and thoracic spine are very sensitive to stress and cause headaches and neck pain in many patients. A permanent wrong posture or movement can lead to tension. These restrict the head in its movement and cause above all local pressure sensitivities and pain. This manifests itself in neck pain. Since the muscles are constantly tense to stabilize our head and spine, the pain also stops in peace. The consequence can be a neck stiffness.

Often there are such illnesses in office workers, which is why there is also the term: "Word Processor Headache". In addition, the muscle is often in sudden contractions, eg in a trauma caused by a car accident, highly irritated. Another risk factor for the irritation of the muscle are cold breezes, such as by air conditioning or motorcycling. In addition to the neck stiffness, the tension can also cause a deterioration of vision.

It is important to note that breathing pains can also arise. Breast or more rib pain, mainly caused by tension in the neck and in the thoracic spine. The cause is the close anatomical connection of the muscles to the bones. A tension in the cervical spine and / or the thoracic spine braces the Atemverschieblichkeit the ribs. The result is a pulling chest pain and shallow breathing.

Once the tension is there, it seldom dissolves on its own. In addition to a physiotherapy prescribed by the doctor, they can do some exercises for their neck. The possible exercises for your neck muscles are very similar to the normal movement possibilities of your neck muscles.

1. Slowly drop your head back. Now slowly turn your head to the initial situation. You can do this several times a day to stretch your muscles.

2. Tilt your head to the left side. Her right arm hangs next to her hip. With your left hand, if necessary, you can increase the stretch by gently adding some pressure. Hold in this position for 20 seconds, breathing deeply and repeat the exercise for the right side. If you feel no improvement or even a deterioration, it is advisable to see a doctor.

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