Category Archives: anatomy

The suboccipital muscles

Several recent clients have been surprised by how tender the muscles at the base of their skull felt when we workhead-982908__340ed there. I also noticed this part of my anatomy on the last few miles of a recent ride on my road bike. I started feeling my neck getting stiff.

The muscles in question are the suboccipitals. There are four of them and they connect your skull to the spine and are also connected to your eyes. They help tip your head toward your shoulder, among other actions. When the suboccipitals are tight, you could experience headaches, neck tightness, or even back pain.

Common posture habits can contribute to issues with the suboccipitals. Typical culprits are forward head posture or habitually tipping your chin up (to look through bifocals or at a computer monitor).

road-bike-2263202__340

Note how this rider’s head is tipped up to see the road.

To reduce tightness in the suboccipitals, some options to try include these easy things.

  • Pay attention to your posture (Rolf Line) – if your head is forward, bring it back into alignment.
  • Confirm that your computer monitor is at an ergonomic height. Usually, this means the top of the screen is at or below eye level.
  • Notice if you tend to tip your chin up and bring it back to level.
  • Make sure your glasses are properly adjusted.
  • Avoid holding your phone between your head and shoulder.

For more relief, you can also use 2 tennis balls in a sock to massage the base of your skull. For instructions and photos, refer to this post by Strength on Demand.

Thoughts on integration from David Davis

I studied with David Davis when he used to teach at the Guild for Structural Integration. He is a gifted practitioner and instructor. Here, he talks briefly about integration, gravity and its effects in the body.

The lungs – not just about breathing

The first session in a 10-series of structural integration has a focus on increasing “vital capacity.” One element of that is working with the ribs and lungs to allow a person to lungs-37824__340breath more fully and freely.

Recent research has revealed another key role played by the lungs. Scientists at the University of San Francisco, using a new kind of imaging, found that the lungs of mice are a significant partner in producing components of blood. They learned that the lungs produced over half the platelets circulating in the mice’s blood. Platelets help the blood clot when you have a cut. Additionally, the lungs of the mice had a store of blood stem cells. The same could very well be true for people. Take care of your lungs so they stay strong and healthy, not just for strong breathing but maybe also for your blood.

UCSF News Release