Cervical Ligaments: The Substratum Of The Skull
By Jayton Miller
- Cervical Ligaments Function
- Structure Of The Cervical Ligaments
- Common Challenges Of The Cervical Ligaments
- Ways To Support The Cervical Ligaments
Cervical Ligaments Function:
The neck is one of the most fascinating parts of the spine. The neck has a wide range of movement while still being relatively stable. You can thank your cervical ligaments for this. The cervical ligaments bind the the cervical vertebrae strongly together while being elastic enough to allow for smooth flexion in almost every direction.
Structure Of the Cervical Ligaments:
Some of the cervical ligaments are part of ligaments that originate further down in the spine, while others are going to play a role where the spine meets the skull. The cervical ligaments are made up of:
- Alar Ligaments - Two ligaments that go from the base of the skull to the dens of the first cervical vertebra.
- Atlas (C1) - First cervical vertebra
- Axis - Second cervical vertebra
- Cruciform Ligament - Attaches the second cervical vertebra to the skull abd secures the position of the dens.
- Dens - Point of attachment for the transverse ligament of the first cervical vertebra.
- Apical Ligament Of Dens - Attaches the dens to the skull.
- Occipital Bone - Alar and cruciform ligaments attach here to connect to the skull.
- Transverse Ligament Of Axis - Forms part of the cruciform ligament.
The first two vertebrae, known as the atlas and axis, support and allow movement of the skull on the spine. The second vertebra (the axis) has a bone growth known as the dens that acts as a place of attachment for different ligaments. The dens sits in front of the vertebral canal, if it moves within the vertebral canal it can damage the nervous tissue and possibly result in death. This makes the supporting nature of the ligaments that much more important.
Common Challenges Of The Cervical Ligaments:
The most common challenge that is seen with the cervical ligaments is a ruptured cruciform ligament. Although relatively speaking this is still a rare occurrence, it is seen. This most commonly happens through a traumatic experience such as a car accident where the head is suddenly flung forward with a high amount of force. It is also said that the cruciform ligament is ruptured when someone is hung from the neck. When this ligament is ruptured the axis and atlas become dislocated, causing the dens to move backwards into the vertebral column as mentioned above.
Ways To Support The Cervical Ligaments:
Generally, walking and sitting with good posture, versus being slumped over, is going to make a massive impact on your cervical health. Some good exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles in your neck to help support the cervical ligaments are:
- Neck Retractions
- Neck Bridges
- Weighted Neck Extensions
- Weighted Neck Curls
These are just a few of the many different exercises for the neck. If you are interested in more exercises and examples of neck training I highly suggest checking out Jeff Nippards youtube channel for more information.
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Overall, the cervical ligaments play a crucial role in the proper health of the spine. When these areas are harmed it results in serious injury, and in some cases, death. Knowing the anatomy of your cervical ligaments, the spine, and the muscles that support them can go a long ways in helping you to bulletproof your neck from injury.