The longus capitis muscle is a sizeable band of tissue that stretches from the cervical vertebrae — the section of the vertebra nearest the skull — to the bottom of the skull. It is one of the major muscles in the human neck.

This muscle’s point of origin is four different vertebrae, specifically cervical vertebrae three, four, five, and six. The muscle is attached to small projections on the vertebrae called tubercles. It then travels the length of the neck, continuing upwards until it passes through the lower, back portion of the skull, known as the occipital bone.

The muscle receives blood flow from the ascending cervical artery. Spinal nerve fibers that extend from the cervical plexus run into the longus capitis muscle.

The longus capitis muscle is responsible for much of the neck’s mobility. It allows the neck to twist and flex. When the neck muscles contract to initiate a movement, the head is also moved. With the longus capitis muscle, a person can turn his or her head in one direction by moving the neck.

Whiplash is a neck injury that usually occurs from sudden and forceful damage to the longus capitis, and often is the result of motor vehicle accidents.