Psoas, and Low Back Pain ReliefWhat is the Psoas, function, and how does it contribute to lowback pain?The Psoas (pronounced so-az) muscle is one of the largest andthickest muscles in the body. It Originates at the 12th thoracicvertebrae, and connects to all the lumbar vertebrae, and thelower portion attaches on the inside of the hipbone, at the lessertrochanter. The psoas is part of the iliopsoas muscle group, orhip flexors. They work with other muscles in your abdominal andpelvic region to move your hip joints. When you are sitting thepsoas will stabilize. When the psoas, and hip flexors contract,they are what is shortening, and causing your leg to comeforward when you walk. Dr. Ida P. Rolf described the role of the psoas in walking: Let us be clear about this: the legs do not originate movement in the walk of a balanced body; the legssupport and follow. Movement is initiated in the trunkand transmitted to the legs through the medium of the psoas. (Rolf, 1977: Rolfing, the Integration of Human Structures, pg. 118: Dennis Landman Publishers).The psoas has many functions and not having a healthy gait is abig wide-spread health concern. The psoas helps maintain thepelvis in a neutral position. If you have the type of job where yousit for 8 hours a day, it can alter the biomechanics of the pelvisand the lumbar, thoracic and even cervical vertebrae. Typically adysfunctional psoas is responsible for referred pain down thefront of the thigh and vertically along the lower to mid spinalcolumn. The psoas can pull and twist your spine and pelvis intovarious distortions that can result in unnatural spinal curvaturesforming back spasm, and of course pain. Sitting through much of
the day at the office, car or elsewhere causes the muscle toshorten to keep us bio-mechanically balanced in our chairs. Overtime we develop a "normal" way of holding the psoas that isdysfunctional. Until the psoas is released the muscle may staycontracted and go into further shortening and spasm veryeasily.The musculature and connective tissue of the legs, whichconnect the legs with the pelvis and torso, largely determine thepelvic orientation and thus the spinal curves. If the feet are not inthe same vertical plane as the hip joints, the strain tilts the pelvis-- and excessive lordosis or kyphosis follows (depending onwhether the person has a swayback or a stoop). This posturaleffect involves the postural reflexes of standing balance, reflexesthat involve the abdominal musculature. If the psoas muscles aretighter on one side than the other (pain on one side), abdominalmuscles are tighter on one side than the other, and hip heightasymmetry results, contributing to the appearance of unequal leglength.What Can I do to Decrease Psoas and Low Back Pain? 1. When you are sleeping: a. If you sleep on your side: Side sleepers place a pillow in between your knees, this will decrease the low back curve and help keep posture while you are asleep. b. If you sleep on your back: Sleeping on your back is recommended, and placing a pillow or 2 underneath your knees will also decrease the low back curvature. c. If you sleep on you stomach: DON’T DO IT- sleeping on your stomach allows your hips to have an anterior tilt as your body curves towards the bed, and causes a prolonged curvature. Like previously mentioned, we train our muscles how to act, and when trying to correct a pelvic tilt and perfect posture, sleeping on your stomach will have the exact opposite effect. 2. When you’re driving: a. Sit up straight: sounds easy enough but most of us have to consciously think about it to accomplish it. I
personally like this little seat called Back Joy. Check out this beauty below. This device is great because it’s portable so you can use it at work, in the car, at the kids’ games sitting on the bleachers, and I do take it all those places.3. When you’re out on the town (LADIES) a. Limit wearing high heels: When you wear heels, your pelvis tilts forward, which takes your hips and spine out of alignment.The result is lordosis, a condition that creates pressure on the nerves in your lower spine. You may like the way it makes your hiney look but it you know you will feel it later. We suggest wearing cute, comfortable flats with arch support if needed. b. If you must wear you’re high heels, we suggest; limit walking in them for far distances and to choose shoes with only a 2-3 inch heel.4. When you’re working: a. Take a minute to move/ stretch: Bad posture is developed by constantly repeated patterns. So, if you are seated with a hunched over back and a protruded head posture, then your body will create bad habits. A very good idea I have come across to hold yourself accountable for making sure you move every 2 hours, is to set a timer. Set it on your phone, and everytime it goes off take 5-10 minutes to MOVE.
b. Here is a chart you can print and hang up in your office, and every time your timer goes off, do the exercises on the sheet. It only takes 4 minutes and stretches your upper and lower body. Make sure to pay attention to the reps and time frames for each stretch.
Dr. Ken Andersen is a chiropractor in Sandy, Utah He prides himself in his ability to meet theexpectations and goals of his patients and provide the best care possible. For moreinformation, please visit http://www.drkenanderson.com