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Is the back of your neck sore or tight when you tilt your head forward? This release is for you.

The suboccipital muscles are to blame when you cannot put your chin on your chest. Learn how to release it to start limbering it up.

Muscle anatomy

The suboccipitals are a group of muscles right under the base of the skull. They run from the top two cervical vertebrae and attach to the base of the skull. These muscles bend the head backward, stabilize the head, and make fine adjustments to the head’s movements.

Causes of tightness

Poor posture that places the head in front of the body make these muscles work statically to direct your gaze forward instead of at the ground – forward head. This causes them to shorten. These muscles are also activated by stress, especially if you grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night. If you wake up with a headache, you may be overworking these muscles during the night.

Tightness symptoms

  • Difficulty putting your chin on your chest

  • Headache at the bottom of the skull or at the top of the head

Flexibility test

Lie on your back with your knees bent. Put one of your hands behind your neck and try to push your neck toward the floor. You should be able to push your neck against your hand.

Release it

Lie on your back with your knees bent. You are going to be your own massage therapist.

  1. Interlace your fingers and place your hands at the base of your skull.

  2. Use your thumbs to knead the muscles right below the base of the skull.

  3. Go up and down, side to side and make circles with your thumbs.

  4. At the same time try to relax your neck to allow the thumbs to dig deep.

  5. Continue for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until you feel a release.


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