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Do you experience neck pain, migraines or headaches?

The suboccipital muscles are prime contributors to headaches, migraines and stiff neck!

Introducing the suboccipital muscles and upper cervical spine (OA / AA junction):

The suboccips are a group of four muscles located in the posterior region of the neck, inferior to the occipital bone.

Did you know the suboccipital muscles,(specifically the rectus capitis posterior minor muscle), has an attachment with the dura mater? The dura is a connective tissue sheath which surround the brain and spinal cord.

It is theorised that tension and hypertonia in these suboccipital muscles could cause headaches by disrupting the normal cerebrospinal fluid fluctuations and contribute to altered functioning of the supplying suboccipital nerves and blood flow from the vertebral artery.

The suboccipital area is very prone to get stiff and immobile. Range of motion becomes restricted, most notably affecting the ability of the upper cervicals to rotate the neck. Dysfunctions in this area is often associated with headaches and are therefore important areas to check and release.

What can I do to help?

Manual therapy releasing these tissues can be a natural way to directly relief your headaches without the use of any medication.

Want to perform a suboccipital release yourself? Here's a simplified step-by-step guide:

1. Find a comfortable seated or standing position.

2. Place your fingertips at the very base of your skull, right under the bony ridge at the back of your head.

3. Gently rest the weight of your head and neck onto your fingertips, allowing them to support your head.

4. Relax your neck and allow the pressure from your fingertips to soften the muscles and fascia in the area.

5. Take slow, deep breaths as you hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

6. Slowly release the pressure and return to a neutral position.

7. Repeat as needed, focusing on any areas of tension or discomfort in the suboccipital region.

Remember to listen to your body and adjust the pressure as needed. If you experience any pain or discomfort beyond a gentle stretch, stop immediately and consult with a healthcare professional.

What can this release technique help with?

This technique can be used to treat tension headaches, neck pain, shoulder pain, upper back pain & TMJ (jaw) dysfunction. It can also be helpful in redressing postural issues where the shoulders become slumped and the head and neck jut forward, possibly linked to our lifestyles, smart phones, and desk jobs.

Please note these techniques must be used with precaution and is not appropriate if you have suffered a stroke, a recent head injury, fracture to the skull, or aneurysm.

If you would like to know more or book in for a session please don't hesitate to get in touch today.

Complete Care Osteopathy Lilydale

Ph: (03) 7036 6525 or

Book Online

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