Low Back Pain? Hip Pain?
Your Psoas Could Be The Culprit!
We all feel it from time to time, that tightness in our low back, stiffness when we turn from side to side. Oftentimes, our bones get blamed, “Oh my back is out!” we say, and we go see a chiropractor for an adjustment…
Most probably, however, it is muscular tension or shortened muscles.
Tight tense muscles hold us in place, while strong muscles allow for fluid movement.
Muscle has memory and if we don’t stretch them, the muscle forgets that it can be long and begins to shrivel up, feel tight and if you continue to allow that tightness to set in, atrophy is next. A few signs of atrophy…
- weakness or frailty
- poor balance
- difficulty moving
- lower endurance
A loss of muscle mass may be an inevitable result of the natural aging process. However, it can increase the risk of injuries and negatively impact a person’s overall quality of life. Movement and activity will keep your muscles strong! Weekly or monthly massage will help to keep the cells rejuvenated as well.
‘Psoas’ I was saying (see what I did there?), let’s stretch those core muscles and help release your low back, thus increasing your mobility!
You can do a quick self-assessment to identify if your psoas is the culprit of your low back pain. Here’s your checklist..
- Does your low back hurt?
Evaluate your psoas flexibility with the Thomas test.
Lay on your back on a bench or table. Scoot down to the edge of the table and hug your knees to your chest. Keeping your back flat against the table, extend one leg in the air and try to lower it off the edge of the table.
If you have a tight psoas, you won’t be able to lower your leg all the way. You may also find yourself arching your lower back to compensate.
It isn’t uncommon to find that the psoas muscle on 1 side of your body is tighter than the other. If you have an imbalance, work 1 side more than the other until the 2 sides are relatively equal.
The psoas major muscle is typically the muscle most involved with low back pain due to its origins at the L1 to L5 vertebrae of the low back (the sway part of your back) and inserts at the lesser trochanter of the femur bone (the very inside top part of your thigh bone). It’s the muscle that holds our top to our bottom for goodness sakes!
The psoas muscle itself can be irritated and cause pain along the front of the hip and deep in the abdomen.
LOW BACK PAIN
When the psoas muscle is shortened and tight, it can pull the vertebrae of the back forward. This forward pull creates an increased curve at the low back. It is natural to have some degree of a curve at the low back, but an excessive curve increases pressure where it does not belong and thus may cause pain.
A shortened psoas muscle can also affect the position of the pelvis. The pelvis has several bones, but the important thing to note is, there are two halves to the pelvis. If the psoas muscle is excessively tight or short, overtime it can cause one side of the pelvis to rotate out of its correct position. This rotated position can create pain at the low back, pain in the pelvis or sacrum region, and even cause nerve compression resulting in irritation down the leg on the same side or opposite side of the tight psoas muscle.
Psoas you better understand this, you can see why low back pain can definitely be caused by a tight psoas major muscle. Your skeletal dysfunctions (holding patterns) are typically due to the position into which that muscle pulls the low back.
Be sure to apply Infused ReLeaf to your low back and hips before stretching. Our customers say they increase their release, and they say the best part.. It helps to relieve inflammation and tension.
1 – Start with a half-kneeling psoas stretch.
Get in position for this stretch by kneeling on the floor on 1 leg with your knees at right angles. Keep your back straight and your tailbone tucked under as you squeeze your glutes and shift your hips forward until you feel a stretch.
Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply. Then switch legs and repeat.
To treat a tight psoas, do this stretch 2 to 3 times a day.
Try pressing your hands into a wall or down into a bench. That will help you keep your back straight and your tailbone tucked.
2 – Combine the psoas stretch with a quadriceps stretch.
Your glutes and quads help support your psoas muscles and give them additional strength. To stretch these muscles as well, reach back and lift the foot of your back leg towards your buttocks when you are doing the half-kneeling psoas stretch.
3 – Use internal rotation to stretch the entire psoas.
The simple act of internally rotating your back leg while doing the half-kneeling psoas stretch more effectively works your entire psoas muscle.
To use this modification, move the foot of your back leg over toward the other side of your body. Your back leg should be diagonal behind you rather than straight back. This will cause your leg to turn inward.
Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side.
4 – Isolate your psoas with the warrior I pose.
Step up to an open doorway so that your right side is just behind the door jamb. Step through the doorway with your left leg and extend your right leg behind you, keeping your heel off the floor. Extend your arms overhead, pressing your palms against the wall. Press your hips forward until your front knee is bent at roughly a right angle.
Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds, breathing deeply, then switch and do the other side.
Modifying the warrior I pose by using a doorway for support makes this pose easier for beginners. Even if you’re an experienced yoga practitioner, this modification will still isolate your psoas to target your stretch.
5 – Fully extend your psoas muscles with bridge pose.
Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Pull your heels close in toward your buttocks. Extend your arms along your sides, palms open up towards the sky. Lift your hips so that your body forms a bridge. Tighten your core and breathe deeply.
Hold the pose for 5 to 10 seconds, then slowly lower yourself to the floor. As you continue to practice, gradually add a few seconds to the time you hold the pose.
Back-bending poses such as the bridge require you to fully extend your hips. This pose also stretches both of your psoas muscles simultaneously.
6 – Include hip-extension exercise in your workout.
Exercises such as cycling and running put a lot of strain on your hip flexors. Balance these activities with exercises such as skating or cross-country skiing, which also have a hip-extension effect.
If you work out at a gym, supplement the treadmill or stationary bicycle with a cross-training or elliptical machine.
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