The splenius muscles are muscles that make up part of the muscle group of the posterior portion of the neck. Splenius capitis connects your cervical and upper thoracic vertebrae to the base of the head. Splenius cervicis connects your upper thoracic vertebrae to your cervical vertebrae. Both splenius muscles aid in extending the neck (as in looking upward) as well as rotating the head.
There are 3 trigger points that involve the splenius muscles, one for sp. capitis and two for sp. cervicis. Location of these trigger points requires palpation in a general area on the neck where these two trigger points may be. The sp. capitis trigger point is located approximately 1/2 to 1″ posterior to the back edge of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle and about 1/2″ 1″ below the occipital protuberance of the skull. Also, the sp. cervicis muscle is not easily palpated. It is located underneath the upper part of the trapezius muscle. It is important to locate these trigger points by looking approximately 2 cm lateral to the C5 vertebra.
Trigger points in the splenius muscles are a common cause of headaches on the top of the head (vertex headaches), pain behind the eyes, pain in rotation of head (stiff neck), and a feeling of tightness wrapping around the head. Ocassionally, orbital pain of the eye and blurring of vision can occur with tightness in sp. capitis and sp. cervicis.
Treatment: Press or squeeze the posterior muscles of the neck by using the thumb of the ipsilateral side. Use the fingers of the same hand for leverage by grasping the other side of the neck. Lying down on the floor gives the muscles a chance to relax while you work on them.
The important thing to understand is that these two splenius muscles are rarely tight on their own. More than likely, there are other muscles in the posterior neck region that are also in need of treatment. Correct head and neck posture will help to keep these muscles from overuse and reduce the amount of strain they will receive.
Massage the splenius muscles for 5-10 minutes twice a day, 3-4 times a week.