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Repetitive Strain Injury/Question about muscles that insert into the occipital region


Hi Julie. I have a few knots along a tight muscle that runs up my neck and inserts into the base of my skull (the occipital region i think). This might be the splenius capitus muscle. Anyways, I was wondering if it is safe to the squeeze the muscle in this area (at it's insertion point). The muscle is literally right on top of the bone.

I also have another question. Whenever I lie on my back I begin to feel the back of my head pulsate. This only happens when pressure is applied. I was wondering if you believe this could be muscle-related.


Hi Shane,

I agree with you that splenius capitus is involved, and I would think that splenius cervicis, levator scapulae, and even trapezius are involved. The trapezius muscle also originates directly on your occipital bone, and the other two muscles originate/insert into your top cervical vertebrae, so they can be pulling the vertebrae out to the side and down, causing pain at the base of your skull, and also causing massive headaches.

Fortunately when you are treating one muscle, to a certain degree you are treating the others. I suggest you also work all the way down to your shoulder so you will treat the belly of the levator scapulae and trapezius muscles.

Do you already have my book, "Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living?"  I know I've spoken to someone named Shane in the past, although I don't know that he was you. I believe he had my book.  In any case, the treatment for all of the muscles are in the book.

Meanwhile, if you go to you can get a lot of information about neck pain along with links to graphics of each of the muscles so you can see how they move your head.

I do think that the pulsating feeling could be coming from muscles, but I would feel a lot more comfortable if, for your safety, you checked that out with your physician as it could also be more serious.

Wishing you well,
    Julie Donnelly

Repetitive Strain Injury

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Julie Donnelly, LMT


I can accept questions that relate to chronic or acute pain caused by muscle spasms and contractions. Repetitive Strain Injury is actually Cumulative Trauma to muscles. Releasing the spasm &/or contraction will relieve the strain that is felt at the insertion point on the bone. I am the co-developer of the unique safe-stretching program "Focused Flexibility Training," which combines easy instruction for self-treating spasms throughout your body with proven yoga stretches. I have recently authored two new books: "The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution," and "The Secret to Your Best Golf Game EVER!


Since 1989 I have been working with endurance athletes and individuals suffering from chronic pain conditions. I have authored seven self-treatment books and three self-treatment DVDs and I have developed the Julstro System for the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, Trigger Finger, and other Hand/Wrist pain. I am a national and international presenter at conventions, seminars, and workshops. Principle topics are "Work Shouldn't Hurt," and "The Pain Free Athlete." In 2005 and 2006 I was the massage therapist for ultracyclists competing in the Race Across America (RAAM) 3000+ mile race from San Diego, CA to Atlantic City, NJ. I've taught the Julstro techniques to physical therapists at the Cleveland Clinic, to massage therapists in areas around the USA, and I've taught Julstro self-treatment clinics to dancers at Juilliard School of Performing Arts (NYC),the sprinting team at NC State, and I am working closely with several Olympic-hopeful. We have successfully eliminated the repetitive strain injuries that could keep them out of the Olympic Games, and the best part is they know how to do the self-treatments so they can stay pain-free and flexible.

Triathlete Magazine, Endurance Magazine, multiple national and international trade journals.

Swedish Institute of Allied Health, NY, NY - Initial education in massage therapy Licensed NYS Massage Therapist since 1989. SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs, NY - B.Sc. degree in Interdisciplinary Health Education I was an Associate Professor helping to develop the massage training program for SUNY Rockland Community College

Past/Present Clients
Privacy prevents me from filling in this section without prior consent from my clients. Life Experience: I have been specializing in the treatment of chronic pain and sports injuries since receiving my NY massage license in 1989. A personal bout with carpal tunnel syndrome was the catalyst to my developing a self-treatment that heals the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome quickly and without surgery. My work with endurance athletes was the inspiration to teach people how to self-treat so they could stop pains even during a race or heavy training day. Both of these situations ultimately became the products that are sold on my websites: and I currently treat people in my offices in Sarasota, FL, Cary, NC, or Pearl River, NY

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