Balancing the Head

The daily well-being is highly dependent on how the weight of the head is carried. The human head – or rather the neck – is very flexible, and as we to a high extend live through the senses centred in the face and head, we turn and twist our head all day long. With a weight of 3-5 kg, this puts great strain on the muscles, on which these movements rely.

The neck of a woman is more flexible, and thus more delicate, than that of a man. She is more social and vulnerable with her womb and eventual children, demanding her to look a lot more around to safeguard the space between the family members.

Starting out with the most superficial, we find the trapezius muscle1 – or rather the three trapezi muscles. See the next picture to the left: The upper, middle and lower trapezius muscles make up for a big part of the skeletal-muscular shield. It covers all the way from bottom of the skull and down over every vertebra connected to the chest.

Sidewards it covers both shoulder bones, extending over a rather big area of shoulders and the back and thus taking a fair share of the task of encapsulating the body in the fetal position.

Permanent tension in the trapezius muscle during a Paralysis Hangover restricts the blood flow through the neck to the brain, thus the trapezius is part of the problem connected to headaches.

In close proximity of the trapezius we find other muscles, that play important roles in the mobility of the head. Two of them shall be mentioned here: Sternomastoid2 and levator scapula3.

The sternomastoid connects the clavicle with the temporal bone, at the skull behind the ear. A tense sternomastoid muscle will restrict the rotation of the head.

The levator scapula is to the neck, what the psoas is to the lumbar spine. When tense, it contracts the vertebrae of the neck, and may distort the curvature, blood flow and mobility of neck and head, thus giving rise to headaches.

Just underneath the network of muscles, from which the trapezius is an important part, is the spine with every single muscle tense, keeping the spine leaning slightly forward, leaving the head hanging and exerting more or less permanent strain on the trapezius, thus adding to a potential headache.

Atlas at the top of the spine

The spine continuation up towards the head – the neck – is prone to injuries and is very vulnerable to all kinds of impact. The closer we come to the head, the more strain.

Atlas is the name of the god, that carries the earth on his shoulders. Equivalently the atlas bone is the uppermost bone in the spine; the one carrying the head.

And yet the atlas4 is the smallest of all vertebrae in the body. It is the most flexible and the most delicate. Therefore it comes at no surprise, that it is one of the most compromised too.

All sorts of impact may result in injuries. But the main cause of displacements is a Paralysis Hangover. A slight twist of the atlas will immediately restrict blood flow to the head and squeeze the spinal cord and very specifically the cranial nerves.

From a developmental point of view it may be argued, that the atlas is far from being the uppermost vertebra. The sphenoidbasilar joint5 between the occipital bone and the sphenoid bone6 – see the black arrows at the two pictures above – indicates, that they rather are successors of the spine, that they are the uppermost parts of it. Actually the sphenoid bone is a composition of its own, as it is build of two vertebrae, that fuse late in pregnancy.

The three bones – atlas, occipital and sphenoid – are very different. Atlas is by far the smallest and is almost nothing but mobility, as most of its body consists of joints, connections to tendons and other bones. This also makes it the densest of them all.

In addition atlas is the most felt of the three, the one creating most pain in human life. This is due to its position, the demand for mobility and the size, with the smallest hole for the penetration of the spinal cord.

The occipital bone is the crudest of the three with the mass of it´s body closing the backside of the skull, protecting it against impacts. It is the simplest structure with the plate like extension carrying the brain. Well, the occipital bone does not only carry the brain, it actually carries all of the head.

The sphenoid bone7 is the softest and lightest of them all. See the two pictures below. Compared to the two other bones the sphenoid bone is rather spongy and weighs in at only some few grams. Maybe the most sophisticated and gracious structure of the body it brags with wide unfolded wings. From inside the head it looks like a masked lion with a big sneering nose and slit eyes.

If we think of the human face as a mask, behind this mask, the sphenoid bone is what we would see. From this side the sphenoid bone looks rather like an eagle caught the moment right before striking. The wings are wide spread so as to peak of the speed, and the feather covered legs stretched forward to dig deep and furious into the warm flesh of the prey.

The sphenoid bone builds the back wall of the eye cavities. The eagles legs, or the lower wings of the sphenoid bone, are meeting and supporting the upper jaw.

And yet most spectacular is the Turkish saddle – sella turcica; see the grey arrow at picture below – which houses the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, as close as one can get to the forehead without penetrating into the face. The pituitary gland is controlling hormones, that monitor a variety of processes in the body like growth, blood pressure, energy management, metabolic and sexual functions.

Upon and around the sphenoid bone the forehead bones are build. The outer points of the wings surface the cranium at the temple.

The “eyes” actually have a connection with the real eyes, in that the nerves and veins, that support the eyes, penetrate the eyes of the sphenoid bone.

Looking up front we see the face behind the face. The face consists of a bone structure holding eyes, nose and mouth. Between face cavities and brain there is an other bone wall, and that is basically the sphenoid bone.

Again we recognize the upper wings, that penetrates the cranium at the temples. We see the holes for the eye support. This is approximately, where the eyes are located.

It is common to believe, that the skull is one solid structure. Of course the bones stiffen through adulthood, yet a healthy life depends on the skull´s ability to breathe, the skull bones ability to perform tiny movements. These contractions and expansions make for a tiny pump, which ensures the circulation of the fluids, in which the brain and the spinal column floats.

An other reason, why this open structure is needed, is strength. If the skull was one solid bone, the chance of surviving accidents would be considerably reduced. Now, instead of splattering upon impact, the skull hopefully only deforms and thereby absorbs the forces. This is well known from birth. There is no way a child´s head can make it out of mothers womb without significant deformation!

Where as this is very efficient, there is a price to pay. Every newborn child enters this world with some bone displacement to cope with. Many bones will line up just fine within a short time after the birth. But some do not. Many children are born under circumstances, that are not optimal. Mother´s fear may contract the birth canal and make it very difficult for the child to penetrate.

Bathed in mothers stress hormones the child cannot calm down and enjoy the beautiful moment, it was meant to be. And in the moment of release the mother has enough with her own pain and cannot nourish and give her child the love needed for a spontaneous recovery. Thus the sphenoid may get stuck in a wrong position for the lifetime.

Caesarean section

That said, one important question may occur: How about the children that were never born, so to speak, but rather operated out of mother womb by the surgeons knife? It is not a tiny group by the way. 25% of all children experience this kind of surgery on their way into this erthal world.

Whereas in South Africa the percentage is as low as 5, in other countries half of all children are delivered by a surgeon. One might think, that through a caesarean section the child would be spared the devastating displacement of the sphenoid bone. Many mothers turn to caesarean section, because they fear the pain and strain; and even the unpredictability of a natural birth. Does caesarean section secure the child in regard of the sphenoid bone? This turns out to be a hasty conclusion. To understand when exactly this displacement occurs, we have to look at the third trimester of the gestation. Within these last three months, where the child grows the most, the space in the womb increasingly restricts the previously relative free movements. The child gravitates down in the bottom of the mothers pelvis. The pear-shaped form of the child´s body ensures that most children fix head down, which happens to be the most secure way to pass through the birth canal. Only 4% are malpresentations, where the child situates with uterus down.

Looking at the 9 different ways8, the child´s head can situate in mothers pelvis, it becomes obvious, that already when the child bumps down in the pelvis, the head becomes stuck. See picture below. Add to that, that the child may still be growing and increasing it´s head size for many weeks. Therefore we may correct the previous statement: A sphenoid displacement may happen during birth. But it very likely happens already weeks before.

With this in mind we are left with the 4% malpresentations. Because they do not have their heads growing enclosed in their mother´s pelvic, they are the only ones, that are spared. But at a price, which they likely would have refrained, if asked.

The displacement of the sphenoid bone – even in worst cases – is minimal. The consequences though may be life changing. The head of an adult is approximately the same as a bowling ball. Therefore one result of the sphenoid bone displacement was coined the “Bowling ball syndrome” by Robert Boyd9.

Boyd recognized, that when the sphenoid bone is displaced, the balance of the head is disturbed. In order to keep the weight centred upon atlas, the muscles in the neck will compensate and displace atlas as well as the underlying neck bone. This draws one shoulder up, which by the way draws an arm with it. The strain in the shoulder is compensated through a slight twist in the spine. This of course is compensated by the pelvis twisting some few degrees. Finally one leg is drawn up somewhat, which makes it look a bit shorter.

But also at the face side of the head things happen. The jaw might move slightly and the face may become asymmetric. Ear infections occur with 15% of all newborn, from which many are related to the displaced sphenoid bone. That a misaligned sphenoid bone may connect to or even be a driving cause of ear infections becomes clear, when one realizes, that the canals for eyes, nose and sinuses passes through the sphenoid bone, and that through the displacement, these canals thereby may become obstructed.


As with the sphenoid bone the atlas is very likely to become affected by the overwhelming forces even an undramatic birth presents.

An atlas displacement has its own specific hallmarks like compression of the spinal cord, vertebral and carotid arteries, various vessels and lymphatic channels.

It may be without any correlation to a sphenoid displacement, though often times they seem to accompany each other, and the consequences of their displacements very much overlap. Hence they can be regarded as one phenomenon.


A twist in the spine is well known to the scientific community. It is called scoliosis.10 See picture below. As you may have understood now, everybody is in fact born with it, following from the fact that everybody is born with a displacement in either the sphenoid bone or the atlas.

Whilst we are all born with it, for most of us the sphenoid bone as well as atlas slips back in place within hours after birth, and only for 2-3% of the new born the scoliosis develops beyond 10 degrees. A spinal twist smaller than 10 degrees is generally understood as without substantial consequences and is not regarded as scoliosis.

The other way round is also true: Everybody diagnosed with scoliosis have their sphenoid bone and or atlas displaced. There does not seem to be other reasons to it.

Spinal fluid pump

In the head a lot of things are getting disturbed by a Paralysis Hangover. First and foremost is the spinal fluid pump, which delivers fresh fluids to the brain, affected. The pump consists of the skull bones, all vertebrae down to the sacral bone and the dura. The dura is the thick membrane surrounding brain and spinal cord.

The dura is attached to the skull bones. Under normal circumstances, when the pressure within the dura decreases, the skull bones closes in to and finally touch each other. This touching triggers the creation of new fluid, which increases the pressure in the brain. When pressure rises, the bones drift apart. When the bones no longer nag on each other, the body understands, that optimal pressure is reached, and production stops.

When the sphenoid bone is displaced, it gets locked to its neighbours and cannot drift any more. Therefore the impulse to stop producing fluid falls out. Pressure rises above normal and is only balanced by leakages through the dura.

In a healthy person the spinal fluid pump follows the breath, as the breath has a similar function. Inhalation increases pressure in the body, hence also in the circulation of blood, lymph and even the fluids of the dura. This leads to a stop in production of spinal fluid. Exhaling releases this pressure, the cranial bones glide together and the process starts over again.









9Robert Boyd “An introduction to Bio-cranial Therapy”, Bio-cranial Institute, Charlotte, N.C.