Updated: Jun 9, 2019

The semispinalis capitis (complexus) is situated at the upper and back part of the neck, deep to the splenius, and medial to the longissimus cervicis and longissimus capitis. It arises by a series of tendons from the tips of the transverse processes of the upper six or seven thoracic and the seventh cervical vertebrae, and from the articular processes of the three cervical vertebrae above this (C4-C6).

Common Symptoms:

  • Painful, restricted range of motion in all directions with the pain worsening when bending the head forward.

  • The pressure of lying on a pillow is too painful

  • If the greater occiptial nerve becomes entrapped, symptoms may also include numbness, tingling, and burning pain on the back of the head

What perpetuates this trigger points?

  • Activities: that hold your neck in an awkward position ( bird watching, playing some music instruments, looking up for a long period of time (painters), falling asleep on the couch with your head propped up on the arm of the couch, lying on the floor propped up on your elbows watching tv, glasses that have too short a focal length., exposure to cold draft or air conditioner , Diving into a pool , pulling on a rope, lifting heavy weights and Depression

  • Other Muscles: Tight Pectoralis Muscle , Lavator scapula, Digastric, Infraspinatus , Trapezuis, Sternocleidomastiod, Multifidi, Illocostalis Lumborum, Illiocostalis Thoracis, Longissimus Thoracis

  • Structural issues such as poor posture, head forward posture, Kyphosis, Laminectomy surgery, cervical facet join osteoarthritis., anatomical leg-length inequality or unequal hemipelvis size.


The X's represent the Trigger Points apply pressure gently until your on the edge of "good" pain. The red shaded area is the referred pain caused by the Trigger Point and the darker red means more people experienced pain in that area.


  1. Perform the Thoracolmber paraspinal /Trapezuis pressure technique first.

  2. Position: Lying down on your back

  3. Put a GOLF BALL in the center of your palms and place your hand behind your neck on the X. The ball should be on the muscles on the side of the spine -do not put the ball directly on the spine.

  4. Keep your head relaxed to apply pressure rotate your head toward the golf ball

  5. To move the ball rotate your head away from the ball and move a small amount and then follow step 4 until you get to the base of the skull.

  6. Repeat on opposite side

  • If you want more pressure rotate your head toward the side you are working on even more rotate your head less to reduce pressure.

  • Do not lift your head to move the ball this will cause additional stress on the muscles.


Posterior Neck Stretch

  1. Position: Sitting you can also do this in a hot shower

  2. Lock your hands behind your head and pull your head gently forward

  3. Turn your head in a 45 degree angle and gently pull your head in that direction

  4. Place one hand on the top of your head and gently pull your head down to that side.

  5. Repeat in the opposite side.

Side-Bending Neck Stretch

  1. Position: Lying down on your back with the hand of the side you are stretching under your butt. Your opposite hand over the top of your head.

  2. Pull your head gently toward your shoulder, then release and take a deep breath.

  3. Repeat with your head turned slightly toward the left and again toward the right.

  4. Stretch the opposite side following steps 1-3

  5. Repeat steps 1-4 three times


  • Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons’ Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999.

  • The Trigger Point& Referred Pain Guide.

  • Wikipedia