Sub Occipital Muscles, a Tucked Pelvis and the Psoas

the sub occipitals a tucked pelvis & the psoasThe sub occipital muscles are directly affected by a tucked pelvis. This post is a follow-up and something of a rehash of the one earlier in the week— The Rhomboids, a Tucked Pelvis and the Psoas. In truth there is a much more literal connection between the psoas and the rhomboids and the relationship that they have connecting the legs and shoulder girdle to the spine, but the sub occipital muscles are likewise affected by a tucked pelvis.

The psoas works as a pulley system within the body. One of its essential functions is to provide support to the uplifting spine. It does this pretty much any time there is a successful arch in the lumbar (lower) spine. The spine has four curves in order to successfully transfer weight from the head to the legs. If the spine were straight instead of curved it would be impossible to support the very heavy weight of the head on top of the shoulders and the pelvis.

a tucked pelvis takes out the curve of the lumbar spinea tucked pelvis loses the pulley action of the psoas the sub occipitals a tucked pelvis & the psoas

The lumbar spine is most responsible for bearing and transferring this weight. That is why the five bones of the lumbar spine are bigger than the rest of the vertebrae, and though they can flex and extend, they can’t rotate. Their size and stability are designed for carrying the load of the upper body.

The four sub occipital muscles connect the head to the very top of the spine—the first two vertebrae (C1 & C2), the atlas and the axis—extend, rotate and tilt the head. But they can only really accomplish these functions if the head sits directly on top of the spine. When the head is forced forward these muscles are basically holding on for dear life which is why they very often become full of tension that can lead to profound discomfort.

The effect of the psoas and a tucked pelvis on the support of the head and sub occipital muscles is one of the easiest things to feel. Assuming that you are sitting as you read this (and I hate to say it but I am assuming that you are sitting badly, though I hope I am wrong), deepen your groins, sticking the butt out a little, bringing a small arch into the lower back. This basic action should support the head bringing it slightly back in space without your needing to do anything else.

Now tuck the pelvis rounding the lower back slightly and feel what happens to the head. If I had to guess it moved forward as the upper back rounded a bit. A tucked pelvis eliminates the lumbar curve which removes the spinal support for the head forcing it forward into space.

Sitting standing and walking correctly are essential to having a head situated happily in space, and having sub occipital muscles that can work according to their design. Developing support for your head by properly aligning a tucked pelvis and activating the pulley system of the psoas can have far reaching effects and benefits that can include alleviating sinus problems, headaches and chronic neck and shoulder strain.


Weekend Mashup
Stretching The Sub Occipital Muscles
  1. Well if you like to work on being better at sitting, but the core wasn’t designed for sitting as a resting pose, either various of kneeling positions or squatting positions, when you teach people how to squat again you get better results with posture as long as they avoid sitting in chairs, we are going to naturally tuck the pelvis when sitting as it feels much nicer not to be resting on the Ischial Tuberosity, sit bones, as too much weight on boney parts is not pleasurable for long. When we sit down it should be in certain positions that the weight is over the softer tissues than the boney parts, like the lotus and mermaid leg postures no weight is on the sit bones.

    So we need to get our clients to think more than just their head or pelvis placement and actually realise sitting down in chairs is causing the harm, even if you get them to move their pelvis or head it is going to be more uncomfortable and only take more padding which then compliant surfaces start to switch our proprioception off in our body. Which then affects how we walk and run, so by still teaching someone how to sit better still is going to make them poor at walking and running, it is not our natural posture, try not sitting on a chair and squat and sit in mermaid or lotus postures and see if you feel any different than from being in a chair.

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