Suboccipital muscles | Acland's Video Atlas of Human Anatomy Skip to main content


Now we’ll look at the principal muscles of the neck. We’ll build up our picture from the inside, to the outside. We’ll start with four short muscles on the underside of the occiput, the two oblique muscles, and the two rectus muscles. Collectively these are called the suboccipital muscles.

Here are the two rectus capitis muscles, minor, and major. Rectus capitis minor goes from the middle of the posterior arch of the atlas, to this area on the occiput. Rectus capitis major goes from the spinous process of the axis, to here on the occiput.

Here are the two oblique, or obliquus capitis muscles, the inferior, and the much smaller superior. The inferior oblique goes from the spine of the axis vertebra, to the transverse process of the atlas. The superior oblique goes from the transverse process of the atlas, to here on the occiput. The action of the suboccipital muscles is to extend the head, and to rotate it toward the same side.

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