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Dorsal line


Pictures of the line

Consists of the following muscles and connective tissues

Attaches to the following bones

  • Frontal bones, supraorbital ridge
  • Occipital ridge
  • Sacrum
  • Tuberositas ischiadicum
  • Femoral condyles
  • Calcaneus
  • Plantar surface of phalanges of the toes

Function of line

  • Posturally, to support the body in a full upright extension position, to prevent ‘fetal’ position
  • Except for the hamstrings, the overall activity is extension and hyperextension

Compensation patterns associated with the line

  • Ankle dorsiflexion limitation
  • Knee hyperextension
  • Hamstring shortness
  • Posterior pelvic tilt
  • Anterior pelvic shift
  • Sacral nutation
  • Atlanto-occipital limitation in form of upper cervical hyperextension
  • Anterior shift or rotation of the occiput on the atlas


Evaluation of integrity of line

Client position

  • Seated with both feet on the ground. Upright position with head facing straight forward

Therapist position

  • Stand on the lateral side of the patient evaluating the quality of movement during the test


  • Ask the patient to slowly lower his/her chin to the chest, while you evaluate the movement vertebrae for vertebrae while the head flexes. Each level should be moving individually before the next level begins it's movement, further attention should be paid to an area if two or more levels move simultaneously.
  • In severe cases, look for flexion of hips or the spine moving as a whole




Dorsal line - neck and head
Dorsal line - with obliquus capitis. Note! The obliquus capitis muscles is not part of the dorsal line, but is relevant for atlas therapy
Dorsal line - lower body
Dorsal line - thigh and knee

Rectus capitis posterior major and minor

Rectus capitis posterior major
Rectus capitis posterior major
Rectus capitis posterior minor

Origin and insertion

Rectus capitis posterior major
Rectus capitis posterior minor

Biceps femoris

Biceps femoris shorthead
Biceps femoris
Biceps femoris - lateral

Origin and insertion

Origin of biceps femoris
Insertions of biceps femoris


Semitendinosus - anteromedial view
Semitendinosus - anterior view
Semitendinosus - posterior view

Origin and insertion


Semimembranosus -posterior view
Semimembranosus -posteromedial view
Semimembranosus - posteromedial insertion

Origin and insertion


Gastrocnemius posterior view
Gastrocnemius - medial view
Gastrocnemius - lateral view

Origin and insertion

Origin of gastrocnemius
Insertion of gastrocnemius


Soleus - posterior view
Soleus - posteromedial view

Origin and insertion