First Branch of the Levator

Origin: The transverse process of the Atlas vertebra.

Insertion: The medial border of the scapula at its superior angle.

Located: Palpable within the sternocleidomastoid (though actually beneath or sometimes posterior to the sternocleidomastoid) and is easily confused with these bands.  A sliding (or rolling the finger pads over levator gently) of the index or the Chiropractic index fingers is used across the posterior aspect of the sternocleidomastoid, below the transverse process of Atlas and above the transverse process of Axis vertebra.  The levator can be differentiated from the sternocleidomastoid as a band never reaching the the base of the occiput, instead this branch can be found to dip below the sternocleidomastoid angling in the direction of the Atlas transverse processes.  Also seemingly disappears as the sternocleidomastoid approaches the mastoid process.

Listing Involvement: The first branch of the levatores is synergistic with that of the obliquus capitis superior, though it works on the opposing side upon Atlas laterality; these two muscles work to correct the lateral plane displacement together.  The levator works on the same side as Atlas laterality.

Working Sensation: Upon palpation of the first branch, tension can be interpreted to any of the three degrees, but is often notable or firm. The levatores are tendonous slips of  muscle, closely comparable to a thin, fleshy ribbon drawn muscle, relatively taut, and also compared to having that of a firm "rubber band" effect.  The working levator is distinguishable as a muscle band and fairly obvious (as working) when not complicated by the surrounding tissue or other related branches.

Non-Working Sensation: It is necessary to emphasize that there is "often to always" an inherent definitive tone to the levator muscle branches.  This can be mistaken for working sensation and therefore required to be palpated simultaneously with the opposing branch.  It is also essential to consider the entire Atlas complex before resolving to a lateral listing because the first branch is related and subject to the influence of the second branch of the levatores.