The aim of this study was to investigate the response of cervical muscles to physiologic tensile stretch of cervical facet joint capsule (FJC) at a quasi-static displacement rate of 0.5 mm/s. In vivo caprine left C5–C6 FJC preparations were subjected to an incremental tensile displacement paradigm. EMG activity was recorded during FJC stretch from the right trapezius (TR) and multifidus (MF) muscle groups at the C5 and C6 levels and bilaterally from the sternomastoid (SM) and longus colli (LC) muscle groups at the C5–C6 level. Onset of muscular activity was later analyzed using visual and computer-based methods. Capsule load and strain at the time of onset were recorded and compared between the muscle groups. Results indicated capsule load was a better indicator of the tensile stretch thresholds for muscular recruitment than capsule strain. MF responded at significantly smaller capsule loads than TR and LC, while TR and LC activation loads were not significantly different. SM did not respond to physiologic FJC stretch. Muscle group recruitment order reflected the muscles’ fiber type compositions and functional roles in the spine. This study provides the first evidence that the cervical ligamento-muscular reflex pathways are activated via tensile FJC stretch and extend to superficial and deep musculature on the anterior and posterior aspects of the neck, ipsilateral and contralateral to the side of FJC stretch.