Atlas Explained …

In Greek mythology Atlas was a God who was responsible for bearing the weight of the heavens on his shoulders – but did you know that the top cervical bone in your neck also has the same name and symbolically some would say a very similar responsibility?

Atlas Alignment

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

On our Kinesiology courses we teach a correction for the Atlas bone (also known as C1) and we have found time and again that just having this gentle and non-invasive work done can make an enormous difference to how someone feels both physically and emotionally. When you understand more about the Atlas, it is easy to understand why …

You see the atlas is located directly under the head and connects the head to the rest of the spine. It weighs just 2 ounces and the human head can weigh anywhere between 9-17 pounds, hence the likeness to the Greek God Atlas. It supports the weight of the head most effectively when it is in the neutral (or to use a technical term, the orthogonal position.) This is because when this bone (the first link in the chain) is in alignment, the rest of the spine comes into better alignment and allows the complex and delicate messages of the central nervous system to be freely communicated.

The boxed area in this image shows the location of the Atlas (or C1) bone

The boxed area in this image shows the location of the Atlas (or C1) bone

The main cause of atlas misalignment is trauma, usually physical trauma such as car accidents, heavy lifting, injuries etc but in some cases the atlas can also misalign from severe psychological trauma. Whatever the reason when this happens the body will compensate to maintain its center of gravity. So the head will tilt which causes the spine to shift to support the weight of the head. The body then alters its structure in a such a way that the muscles contract and can even cause one leg to appear shorter than the other- in most cases the leg isn’t actually shorter, but is being drawn short due to the body’s compensation from the atlas misalignment.
Atlas Alignment

This image shows (on the right) the compensation our physical structures make when the atlas is misaligned.

Other problems that may appear as a result of a displaced atlas include nervous system disruptions due to nerve pressure, scoliosis, shoulder and pelvis problems, headaches, neck and jaw pain, anxiety, dizziness and a feeling of being ‘all over the place’ or ‘out of ‘whack.’

The correction that we teach on our courses involves gentle light touch on different points on the face, it’s an extremely relaxing treatment that feels amazing to give and receive and can often bring about profound changes in a person’s well-being. It’s a brilliant tool to have in your toolkit when you are a Practitioner. However in some cases where the atlas is constantly being corrected in subsequent treatments, a responsible Kinesiologist should refer you on to a specialist in trauma release and/or may also recommend more specialist structural work.

Find out more about our Kinesiology Foundation and Practitioner Level training.