Movements of the head

Movements of the head

This animation demonstrates how muscles and vertebrae move the head.



head, nodding, sternocleidomastoid muscle, atlas, rotating, skull, spine, muscle, vertebra, moving, human, biology

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The first and the second cervical vertebrae play a key role in moving the head. The topmost vertebra, known as atlas, serves to support the skull. The atlanto-occipital joint allows the head to nod up and down.
The second vertebra is called the axis. Its odontoid process forms a pivot upon which the atlas rotates and thereby allows for the rotation of the head.

The sternocleidomastoid muscles also play an important role in moving the head. The muscle’s origins are located on the sternum and the clavicle, while its insertion is on the skull. When both of these muscles contract, the head is tilted backwards. When only one of the muscles contract, the head rotates. The movements of the head are also influenced by other muscles in the neck, therefore the head can also be rotated horizontally.

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