Psoas – The “Hidden Prankster”

My final term at the Center for Neurosomatic Studies began week before last.  We’ve only had 2 weeks of school and already we’ve covered tons of interesting stuff in Advanced Technique class.  I finally know the official protocols for the diaphragm, illiacus, superficial paraspinals, quadratus lumborum, deep spinal rotators, deep costal muscles, and, wait for it….THE PSOAS, aka, the “Hidden Prankster” according to Janet Travell who literally wrote the book on trigger points.

All of these muscles can be implicated in the number one reason people miss work – BACK PAIN.  But the psoas is in a world of its own.  Because of its placement in the the body, it can contribute to almost every distortion imaginable.

The psoas lies on the anterior surface  (the front) of the transverse processes (the horizontal parts of the vertebrae) and bodies of lumbar vertebrae and attaches to the lesser trochanter of the femur (a little bump of bone on the inside of your thigh).  It’s basically this huge strap of muscle that runs deep along your lumbar spine, behind all your guts (aka viscera) that connects your torso to your legs.  When you sit all day, it gets shorter, and shorter and shorter and ramps up its pranksteriness to a 10.

Because of its length, placement, and connections in the body, it can contribute to spinal flexion, extension, and rotation; hip flexion, extension and tilt; torso tilt, and pain in the abdomen and back.  It also shares attachments with the diaphragm, so it can contribute to breathing dysfunctions, which can lead to to a whole host of other ailments like anxiety, depression, head forward posture, neck pain, etc.

It’s a tricky muscle to treat effectively, however, because it is deeeeeep within the body.  We learned a technique to kind of swim down through the viscera to the back of the abdomen.  As you can imagine, this is not a FUN muscle to have treated.  But it can make a world of difference!!

If you can’t find a neurosomatic therapist, or if you don’t want to fly to Florida and visit me, there are lots of exercises you can do to help stretch out the psoas.  Katy Bowman, my favorite biomechanist, describes an easy psoas stretch here, and Jill Miller shares a creative way to use Yoga Tune Up® balls to get into this area here.

All this is to say, I’m so glad I finally learned the official protocol for this little prankster!

 

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