Casey's Blog

The Importance of the Atlanto-occipital Joint

Mar 12, 2021

The atlas is the very highest vertebrae (spine bone) and the occiput is the bottom back part of the skull that sits right on top of the atlas. Together they form the atlanto-occipital (AO) joint, where your head moves in relation to your neck.

Between sitting at computers, texting, driving and sitting so darn much, our AO often gets jammed in extension and sits too far forward.

No big deal, right? Except…

  • our brain sits right on top of our occipital bone

  • the spinal cord comes right out the bottom of the occipital bone

    Head position directly impacts neck position and here are some important structures in your neck:

    • carotid artery that brings blood (and all the nutrients) to your brain

    • jugular vein that drains blood (and all the waste) from your brain

    • vagus and phrenic nerves (that innervate your organs and regulate your autonomic nervous system, which is a HUGE deal in cardiovascular health, digestive function and stress modulation)

    • excessive lymph nodes and vessels that brings all fluids back to your heart to then be filtered by the lungs and kidneys

    • brachial plexus, which is a bundle of nerves that innervates your shoulders and arms

    • muscles that get all jacked up trying to hold that big melon on your neck, and muscles are the lowest thing on this priority list for a reason

      Now how on earth do you fix it? A few ways…

Suboccipital release with the Roll Model® Method’s Alpha ball.