On this page you will learn how to take action against pain and trigger points in the frontalis and occipitalis muscles.
These two muscles can cause a variety of headaches when tension and trigger points are present.
In many cases, it’s possible to relieve these muscular problems with a self-massage. On this page you will learn how to do so.
Besides, I’ll explain …
I’ll describe the different kinds of pain and symptoms that these two muscles can cause.
It’s not necessary that you understand right away where these muscles are located, but first learn where they can cause pain.
Learn about their location in the section “Attachment Points”, how to massage them in the section “Self-massage”.
Tensions and trigger points in the frontalis can cause pain in the area of the forehead.
This is why this muscle often contributes to headaches in the forehead.
Tensions in the occipitalis can lead to local sensitivity of pressure and pain in the back of the head.
Trigger points, on the other hand, can transmit pain to distant areas.
Trigger points in the occipitalis can lead to such high sensitivity of pressure at the back of the head that you can no longer place your head on a pillow.
The muscle is only loaded with the weight of your head against the pillow, but even this can lead to severe pain.
The frontalis and occipitalis can be classified as a single muscle, the occipitofrontalis.
On top of the skull, they fuse with the scalp.
The anterior portion of the frontalis blends with the skin above the eyebrow and with the fibers of the orbicularis oculi.
The posterior compartment, the occipitalis, attaches at the linea nuchae.
Both muscles work together and are responsible for movements of the forehead and eyebrows.
The frontalis lifts your eyebrows and wrinkles your forehead.
This facial expression is used, for example, to express surprise.
The occipitalis supports and reinforces the function of the frontalis.
It pulls the scalp backwards and thus puts the connective tissue under tension
This helps the frontalis to contract, to develop more strength and to produce a more extreme facial expression.
Thus, it reinforces the function of the frontalis. When these two muscles contract at the same time, the eyes open widely, and the forehead is pulled up.
A facial expression that occurs when something is about to happen to you that you’re afraid of. In this function, it expresses horror.
Various factors may overload these two muscles.
Especially constant activity and trigger points in other key muscles are frequent triggers for the activation of trigger points.
The muscle can be overloaded if you constantly frown your forehead, for example in order to show your attention to an interlocutor.
Of course, there may also be other reasons to wrinkle your brow, for example if you think intensively about something.
Anxious and “stressed” people usually contract this muscle for a long time (mostly subconsciously).
They’re always on the run from something, scared of something, or worried. In the long term, that will overload the muscle.
Trigger points in the SCM (sternocleidomastoid muscle) can cause satellite trigger points in the frontalis.
That’s why I recommend taking a good look at this muscle, too.
Here it is mainly visual difficulties and tense cervical muscles (muscles of the cervical spine) that activate trigger points.
When someone can’t see well, he or she often wrinkles the brow and tries to open the eyes by lifting the brows. I’m sure you’ve observed that on yourself before.
Visual difficulties stimulate this behavior and can therefore overload the muscle.
Almost without exception, all muscles of your rear cervical spine can trigger pain in the back of your head when they are tense and can active trigger points in the occipitofrontalis.
The following muscles are particularly important:
The best way to palpate these two muscles is to feel them under contraction.
Simply lift your eyebrows several times and follow the steps below.
For the self-massage of these two muscles, I recommend using your fingers or a massage ball.
As a massage technique, you can choose from ischemic compression, precise massage strokes or the pressure-motion technique. On this page, I will show you how to massage the muscle with your fingers and the precise massage strokes.
Note: Try to relax during the massage and maintain deep and even breathing.
You have already felt the occipitalis – in the chapter Palpation. And this is exactly the area you massage, in the same way as the area of the frontalis.
However, there is still a small spot in the muscle which you probably will miss without a detailed guide. We don’t want this to happen. This is why I’ll show you where it is situated.