Semispinalis Capitis: Action, Origin & Insertion

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  • 0:04 Semispinalis Capitis
  • 0:28 Origin
  • 1:20 Insertion
  • 1:35 Action
  • 2:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

Have you ever looked up at the sky to see a bird or plane fly by? If so, you should thank your semispinalis capitis, a muscle located in the back of your neck. This lesson teaches you all about this muscle, including its origin, insertion, and action.

Semispinalis Capitis

Did you know that there is a HUGE spider on the ceiling directly above you?!

Made you look! Sorry to pull this silly prank on you, but when you looked up to check for the spider, you used your semispinalis capitis. The semispinalis capitis is a long, thin muscle located in both sides of the back of your neck. Interestingly, this muscle is one that can become painful from whiplash or from sitting too long with poor posture.

Origin

The semispinalis capitis muscle has several points of origin, which are the locations in the body where it begins or starts. To help us understand where it originates, let's look at the vertebral (spinal) column. The vertebral column consists of five different regions, but we're only concerned with the top two regions:

  1. The cervical region: made up of seven vertebrae in the neck (C1-C7)
  2. The thoracic region: made up of twelve vertebrae in between the neck and lower back (T1-T12)

The semispinalis capitis originates from vertebrae in both the cervical and thoracic regions of the spinal column.
vertebral column

The semispinalis muscle originates from the vertebrae from C4 all the way down to T7. Specifically, this muscle starts from the articular processes of C4-C6 and from the transverse processes of C7-T7. The articular and transverse processes are parts of the bone that stick out of the vertebrae that allows tendons from muscles to attach to the vertebrae.

The semispinalis capitis muscle originates from the articular and transverse processes of the vertebrae.
articular process

Insertion

The semispinalis capitis inserts or attaches to the occipital bone, which is the bone located at the back base of the skull. This muscle attaches to the occipital bone between the superior and inferior nuchal lines, which are ridges located on the occipital bone.

The semispinalis capitis inserts on the occipital bone, located at the back base of the skull.
occipital bone

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