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Rectus capitis posterior minor

Rectus capitis posterior minor muscles are found on the back of the head and neck, central to the spine. The rectus capitis posterior major lies directly next to the muscle, but the major muscle sits more to the side of the neck.

The rectus capitis posterior minor muscle begins at the first cervical vertebra, called the atlas. This vertebra is the first vertebra of the spinal column and cradles the base of the skull. The muscle connects the atlas with the occipital bone, which is located at the underside of the skull. It also connects to the spinal dura, a thin membrane that covers and protects the spine.

This muscle controls the extension (backward tilt) of the head, while protecting the flow of spinal fluid. The vertebral and occipital artery provides blood flow to the muscle.

Numerous studies have identified link between muscle strength and cervicogenic headaches. Cervicogenic headaches are headaches caused by problems in the neck. Weakened muscles are believed to be a reason for the headache pain. Changing how you sit and strengthening neck muscles can help reduce this type of headache. Soft tissue massage and stress management also seem to help. Home exercises to strengthen the rectus capitis posterior minor and posture improvement can keep these headaches from returning.

Written and medically reviewed by the Healthline Editorial Team
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In Depth: Rectus capitis posterior minor

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