Obliquus Capitis Superior

Joe Muscolino

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Posterior and right-lateral views of the obliquus capitis superior of the suboccipital group. The obliquus capitis inferior has been ghosted into both views.

The Obliquus Capitis Superior is a member of the Suboccipital Group, which is composed of the:

  • Rectus capitis posterior major
  • Rectus capitis posterior minor
  • Obliquus capitis superior
  • Obliquus capitis inferior



  • The obliquus capitis superior attaches from the transverse process of the atlas (C1) to the occiput.
    • The superior attachment is onto the occiput between the superior and inferior nuchal lines.



  • Protracts the head at the atlanto-occipital joint.
  • Laterally flexes the head at the atlanto-occipital joint.
  • Extends the head at the atlanto-occipital joint.


NOTE: A tight (overly facilitated) obliquus capitis superior can contribute to the postural dysfunction pattern of forward head posture, which is a part of the larger postural dysfunction pattern of upper crossed syndrome.